Waffles at the park. Some unknown person decorated park benches.
What a whirlwind week we had for Christmas. It was fun, but I’m exhausted. We had our second annual Christmas with my son’s girlfriend’s family. We are a family of four and they are a family of nine, plus my dad. Looking back on the past few days, I did a lot of cooking and dishes. It’s a good thing I like to cook — and I don’t mind cleaning up!
Some of the fun stats from our week included the food we went through:
7 dozen eggs
6 dozen Honeycrisp apples
1 full-size prime rib
8 packages of oxtails for soup
8 packages of sweet Italian sausages for sausage and peppers
1 giant pot of split pea soup
We also enjoyed my son’s charcuterie and veggie platters before each dinner.
I can’t say how much fun it is to be around an energetic, athletic, intelligent and musically-talented family. I’m inspired and in awe. Also, I was amazed to see how well everyone got along — all the time. Coming from a small family, I feel like I missed out on something by having only one sibling.
I will admit as much fun as the past week was, I’m glad to have my quiet and solitude. I’m ready to start the New Year and get back to my work.
On Christmas Eve, we were treated to a viola concert by two of the siblings who are professional musicians. Although the lighting is terrible, here’s a snippet:
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Waffles in his Christmas sweater.
What are your thoughts about family togetherness for the holidays?
I wrote this two years ago in January after my second swim meet. It’s interesting to look back on where I was with my swimming, as a relatively new swimmer, and how far I’ve fallen. Literally fallen. A year after I wrote this, I was struggling with a torn ACL and meniscus from a ski accident. Talk about getting out of shape and lacking consistency! Then this fall I went through cataract surgeries over a two-month period where I didn’t get a chance to swim. Then the holidays came and I convinced myself — “why bother?”
Today, it’s pouring down rain but my daughter is home and she said she’d go to practice with me. I wish I could turn back the clock to where I was in 2017 when I was better at swimming and showing up for practice. There’s only one thing to do and that is dive in once again!
Our beautiful Palm Springs pool.
From January 30, 2017:
This past weekend, I was at my second swim meet where I was the swimmer. I made the plunge once before—a year ago at the Palm Springs Piranhas hosted meet. I worried all week as the date of the meet approached. What had I done to myself? Why did I sign up for the meet?
Here is a partial list of things I worried and stressed about:
Standing on the blocks. It’s scary up there.
Diving off the blocks. I was afraid my goggles would fall off and I’d lose my contacts.
Doing a flip turn. In practice, I stick with slow open turns. While practicing flip turns the day before the meet, I got water up my nose and hit my head on the bottom of the pool.
Breathing. I worried that halfway through my 50 free I’d start to panic and revert to breath-holding.
Then, I realized that last year I couldn’t get out of the pool and I had to swim to the ladder. This year, I didn’t have to worry about that. I can now get out of the deep end. That thought made me realize all the things that I had done to prepare for the meet and what was under my control:
I had gone to practice consistently for an entire year.
I had improved my diet to make sure I was properly fueled.
I stayed hydrated.
I worked on dives and flip turns with Coach Jeff and felt more confident.
I started a stretching regime that included warming up my shoulders.
I was one year stronger and better at swimming than at my first meet.
Here I am with a few of my Piranha Masters friends.
I was mentally prepared. I was physically ready. I know I’ve made huge progress. Maybe at the next meet, I won’t get so worked up.
My only regret is that I didn’t start swimming when my kids were young. I’ve learned so much from swimming masters about how hard they work, how great their technique is and how hard it is to swim fast. I took it all for granted. I would have had a different perspective on swim meets and practice if only I had begun swimming years ago. I would have shared this bit of wisdom my favorite ref, Paul, told me at the meet, “Relax and have fun. It’s only a swim meet!”
Why do you think swim parents should compete? What makes you nervous before swim meets?
Me and Linda. Two swim moms and swimmers.
P.S. One of my most favorite things this weekend was to see and talk with three “kids” who swam with my children on Piranhas at my Masters meet. They are all grown-up and continuing with the sport they love.
Oatmeal Scotchies I made this week for a bake sale fundraiser.
Today I got a sharp reminder to slow down and to enjoy the moment. I was waiting with a heavy armload of Christmas packages for more than 15 minutes in a line that wrapped around the inside of the Post Office. I thought my arms were going to give out and I couldn’t wait to put them down. I was looking forward to the coveted spots along the counter where I could slide my packages as the line inched along.
A loud crash and sharp crack startled me. I thought someone had knocked their packages off the counter onto the hard tiled floor. I was shocked to see a woman laying flat on the floor ahead of me in line. The sharp crack was the back of her head hitting the hard floor. Moments earlier we were chatting about the long line and Christmas rush.
“Call 911! Call 911!” several people called out. We stared at the Post Office employees as they waited on customers and stared back. The supervisor came out to peek over the counter without a phone in hand. Fortunately, a person in line had called 911 before the supervisor was aware what was happening.
My Christmas decorations
Deck the halls with boughs of holly…
The paramedics were there within minutes and the woman must be on her way via ambulance to the hospital. The supervisor grabbed her package and the woman was able to hand her a credit card to get her package mailed before she was carted away on a stretcher. So she was conscious at least. I don’t know if it was a stroke or in the very least a concussion.
The woman didn’t look much older than me. As I work myself into a ball of tiredness and fatigue preparing for Christmas, I realized that could have been me!
Here’s what I don’t need to do: I don’t need to volunteer extra hours this time of year (which I have). I don’t need to have every gift perfectly wrapped and under the tree. I don’t have to get every room in my house in perfect shape for my guests. I don’t need to go overboard on decorations.
Here’s what I need to focus on: being together with family and friends. It’s not about checking things off the list in perfection. It’s about savoring the moments and not getting lost in the mayhem. We need to embrace the Christmas spirit and remember what the holiday is all about.
I caught this moment of sunrise lighting up the mountain and palm trees during my walk.
All my excitement of the New Year came to a crash on the slopes when I made one turn and lost my balance. I went skidding down the mountain spinning on my back and side—but only after feeling a rather awful snap in my left knee.
I stood after a friendly stranger helped me up and I thought I was okay. I skied a hundred yards more and “yikes!” The pain in my knee was sharp, intense and I collapsed. After a third try with the same result, I told my ski companion that I needed help down the mountain. I crossed my poles and we waited until a ski instructor stopped and called a number for the ski patrol to come get me.
Long story, short…actually, it’s a short story because it was only the first turn of my third run on a perfectly beautiful, sunny day in Alta. I was lifted into a toboggan with my left leg in a splint and wrapped like a burrito as ski patrol Chris, skied me to a snowmobile patrol, who took me the rest of the way to the clinic. I held onto a little flap of tarp over my head because the ski patrol Chris said it would keep the snow kicked up by the snowmobile from hitting my face on the way off the mountain.
My view from the Ski Patrol toboggan.
The nurse, doctor and receptionist were really kind. They empathize with all their patients whose vacation has been ruined. In my case, I’m not worried about the torn ACL ruining my skiing days. I’m worried about the rest of this week taking care of my daughter’s house and puppy. (I’m in Salt Lake City, Utah to housesit and puppysit for my daughter, who is with her swim team in Florida. I thought I’d take advantage of her proximity to gorgeous ski resorts and ski for the first time in a decade.)
I have a lot going on and I don’t have time for this. In addition to taking care of the pup, there’s a swim meet I was going to compete in early February. Also, I’m traveling back to Salt Lake for my daughter’s senior day and final dual meet. Plus her final PAC 12 swim meet in Seattle. My cousin is coming to visit. My high school friend plans to stay with me. Yikes again. How do I have surgery and participate in all the momentous occasions ahead? What will I do to keep my sanity without my daily walks and swims?
I think a lot will depend on my attitude and outlook. After a good cry that hasn’t happened yet, I’ll pull myself together and face life every hour the way it’s put before me. I remember after my big accident in college, when I was crossing a street and hit by a pick-up truck going 35 miles per hour, it hit me to appreciate the little blessings in life. Don’t take anything for granted. And live life the best you can.
What life lessons have you gained when adventures don’t go as planned?
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.
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.
What’s your secret for staying calm through all the Holiday fun activities and things you have to do?
Waffles snoring and asleep on my lap with his Nylabone.
I’m sitting in my daughter’s house in Utah with a torn ACL from a ski accident barely able to hobble around the house, wearing an epic knee brace. My life has slowed down dramatically and it gives me a different perspective on my days. I’m thankful that I’m not in pain. I’m trying to make the most out of the situation and strangely enough, I’m feeling positive. There are so many things in my life to be thankful for.
First, I’m thankful for my son and his girlfriend and the days they spent with us—before my accident. I’m thankful my son had returned to his home before I fell and he wasn’t with me. I will treasure the time skiing with my son, just like the days when he was a child living at home. It’s an activity that he and I shared and will still do (next year when I’m healed.) The time with our son is not very frequent now that he’s in the Bay Area and a working man.
My son and his girlfriend at The Little America Coffee Shop for dinner after skiing.
Second, I’m thankful for our good friends who came and shared their company with us over the New Year’s weekend. It was a 12-hour drive for them and I don’t take their sacrifice to leave their home and make the trek to stay with us lightly. The Thompson fire came within 400 yards of their home, and I’m thankful their home was spared and they are okay.
Third, I’m thankful for the patience my husband had for everyone taking off cross country and downhill skiing, leaving him in the house alone while we were out adventuring. Because of his bad knee, he didn’t want to join us. Ha! Now I can truly relate.
Fourth, I’m thankful for my daughter’s pug Waffles, who has been a comfort to me since the accident. He’s a good dog and likes nothing more than to snuggle and nap in my lap or next to my side. It sounds silly, but he’s wonderful company. I’m enjoying the sound of his snoring.
Fifth, I’m thankful for my daughter’s concern and her arranging friends to stop by and take Waffles out for walks. I love her texts and calls and the memories from the week we spent together over Christmas.
My daughter and I riding the chairlifts in Deer Valley this past summer.
Sixth, I’m thankful for rest. I’ve been napping and sleeping so much better than I have in years. I slept from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. without waking up once. Plus, I am napping during the day. I believe this ability to rest and sleep uninterrupted is God’s way of healing my body.
Seventh, I’m thankful for friends. I have received notes and calls of encouragement, concern, and an offer of a visit from a friend close-by. Often, my life is too busy and I don’t want to be bothered with other people. This has been a good reminder to reach out to friends and their importance in my daily life.
I worked like crazy to get ready for Christmas. In addition to my usual decorating, card writing, baking and gift buying and wrapping, I had the added challenge of getting bids from roofers and a handyman to repair the roof and our closet.
Then, my daughter came home a few days ago and it’s been a whirlwind of activity ever since. I’m fighting myself to take time to appreciate the moments she’s here and not worry about everything that needs to “get done.” It’s a fact that I’m not going to finish the rewrite of my mid-grade novel or complete the other writing projects before Christmas—or soon after. I will in good time. And that’s okay. I need to enjoy these few days with my daughter and husband before our girl returns to school out of state.
I realize how blessed I am that she enjoys coming home, wants nothing more than to take a walk with us around town and the park. She likes hanging out and helping me.
It’s time to celebrate the season and be grateful for the time I have with my family. Last night we were treated to a wonderful dinner by my dad. I looked around the table marveling that we had three generations who like being together. I miss having our son home, too, but we’ll be together later next week.
Merry Christmas and if you don’t hear from me for a few days, I’m spending the time with my loved ones.
First Christmas photo shoot with a real photographer.
Is there anything more important than spending time together with your loved ones? When is it time to say enough with the preparations for the holidays and take time to enjoy them?