The dog days of summer….

I was curious what I was up to a year ago — during day 139 of the COVID shutdown. I was reading a Julia Cameron book called “It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again” trying to find motivation. I’m feeling lackadaisical just like I did last summer. Maybe it’s the prospect of more COVID mandates, getting back to my routine after being gone for a week — or maybe it’s just August. The dog days of summer.

pug staring out the car window
Waffles in the car with me when my daughter ran into my son’s house to retrieve my sweater.

What are the dog days of summer? I found this on Wikipedia:

The dog days or dog days of summer are the hot, sultry days of summer. They were historically the period following the heliacal rising of the star system Sirius (known colloquially as the “Dog Star”), which Hellenistic astrology connected with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck.

It is hot, humid, we’ve had thunder storms. I’m lethargic. I don’t have a fever, I don’t see any mad dogs and I’m not buying into the bad luck. But otherwise the phrase “dog days of summer” fits.

Okay. About that bad luck. My daughter just called me and said she fell in the dark on her stairs last night trying to get Waffles back in the house. She broke her foot. Now she’s on crutches and trying to get in for an MRI appointment without missing any work. This means she can’t exercise, walk Waffles and will be struggling for weeks to come. I feel like I should be up there to help her. I am thinking this is not good for her mental or physical health.

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Selfies with Waffles while he’s intent on watching my daughter outside the car.

Are you feeling the dog days of summer? What are you doing to stay motivated?

And I was so excited….

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Me and my daughter at Pike Place Market during a mother daughter trip before COVID.

Today I had an appointment for a pedicure. The first one since January 2020. I really didn’t miss them that much during lockdown. I wouldn’t have bothered. But, we’re going to be visiting friends soon at Lake Tahoe and hang out at their house on the deck with lake views. We may be out on their boat and swimming. My feet and toes will be exposed for the world to see.

Yesterday when I went grocery shopping, I noticed a nail salon a few doors down. I stopped in and made an appointment for today. I left the salon with a big smile on my face. A pedicure seemed luxurious. It was something I took for granted in my pre COVID life. My daughter and I would often go together. It was quality mother daughter time, sitting side by side, being pampered, chatting and readings books. I was looking forward to my appointment today.

Fast forward to today and I set an alarm on my iphone so I wouldn’t get busy and miss the appointment. While I was sitting in the pedicure chair, my daughter called. She was very upset and had gotten in a fight with her dad (my husband). I explained where I was and that I couldn’t talk, but I could listen. She was sobbing and I didn’t want to hang up on her. Then I got a text from my husband.

At the same time, my left big toe really hurt. It was painful at every touch and especially during the massage.

Needless to say it wasn’t the peaceful “me time” I had looked forward too. I had quite a lot to say to my husband when I got home. He’s the type that has to “win.” I told him he needs to work on listening to his daughter. He doesn’t need to give advice. He doesn’t need to tell her what to do. He just needs to be there, be quiet and let her talk. He did listen to me and finally agreed.

Then I looked down at my pretty bright pink toes. There’s something awfully wrong.

swollen toe after pedicure
My left big toe that hurt to the touch is swollen!

Next time I’ll skip the pedicure and try something else like reading a book on the sofa. I’ve noticed this toe hurting during my 10,000 steps each day and when I push off the walls swimming. Ugh.

What are your ideas of quality “me time?” I need some new ideas.

Back in the thick of things

Mother and me in the 1990s.
Mom and me in the early 90s.

For Mother’s Day I’m visiting Mom. My daughter gave me the plane ticket as a Mother’s Day present. She remembered I said I wanted to visit my mom after this COVID thing allowed me to. My mom is in assisted living in a Seattle suburb. Since they only allow two people in assisted living at once, I had to make reservations each day visit Mom.

My daughter called me yesterday and asked for my schedule of visits. I asked her why? She said, “I know your mom is gong to be sad when you leave, so I’m going to call her when your visit is up.”

I got choked up. How thoughtful is that of a 25-year-old to think about her 89-year-old grandma in such a caring way.’

Today, my husband drove me to the airport. I was overwhelmed with the traffic there. Then the serpentine lines through security and marching orders being barked. It was almost overwhelming to me after a year of quiet solitude. My nerves calmed, I found my gate, and here I sit catching up on my blogging. I feel like things are back to normal, except for wearing a mask for hours on end.

I’m truly back in the thick of things.

mother and daughter at Pike Place Market Seattle
My daughter and me on our last trip to Seattle to visit my mom in 2019 pre COVID.

Have you traveled or done something “normal” at last? How did you feel?

What options do parents have for homeschooling?

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My daughter with teammates and friends during the homeschool years.

It can be overwhelming trying to decide the best course for educating our kids. With so many parents working remotely from home and schools not opening up, many parents want to explore the options available to them.

When I homeschooled my daughter for middle school, I went to a homeschool conference in Long Beach, CA called CHEA (Christian Home Educators Association) that helped me get started. Back then it was in person of course, and I was able to browse through hundreds of vendors of curriculum on every subject imaginable. I took my son with me, who is three years older than his sister. I figured he’d already made it through grades 6, 7 and 8 with flying colors and could help me select curriculum that would be as good or better than he had at our private school.

The reason why I chose to homeschool was based on several factors, including my daughter’s commitment to swimming and conflicts with her school. They were pretty strict about missing school for non-school sponsored sports or activities. Also, they piled on heaps of homework that homeschoolers don’t have to do. I loved many of the teachers, but with new administration in place, we saw changes we weren’t in agreement with.

Deciding to homeschool was a freeing experience. I remember vividly making the call to tell the school that my daughter wasn’t coming back. It was the start of an adventure. I knew several homeschool families and they directed me to a charter school that offered some in-class options as well as homeschool. They had a teacher assigned to each family that we met with to review assignments to make sure my daughter was on track. They offered standardized testing at a local college for all their students. Also, they had a huge selection of field trips such as Disneyland, whale watching, and Sea World. I was shocked when we went on our first field trip to Medieval Times in Orange County and the entire arena was filled with thousands of homeschool families.

I felt like I had plenty of support by the charter school which was Springs Charter School. Also, I hired a tutor for math because that’s not one of my strong points. I won’t say homeschooling was easy breezy. In truth, it was a lot of work and a full time job for me. But they are years I’ll never forget. My daughter told me last week that she was happy I homeschooled her. By the time 8th grade was finished, we were both ready for her to return to school and she entered our public high school.

I read with interest two articles about the decisions parents are making today to educate their children from home. Here’s an excerpt from Pandemic parenting: How do you pick a good online education option? by Marc Istook from WFAA an ABC News station in Dallas, TX.

Search google for “online educational content” and you’ll find 126,000 results. That just goes to show how many options parents have to choose from.

The pandemic has seen an increased need for these resources as parents try to help educate their kids during school closures and uncertainty about the fall.

But Lauren Minor, a former teacher and curriculum creator, explained it doesn’t have to be a stressful crisis of choices.

“Sometimes we can get paralyzed in this fear of making a decision, worried we’ll make the wrong one,” she explained. “Every option has the opportunity for the child to be successful.”

That provides some comfort, because it can be stressful trying to pick one option. Between ABC Mouse, Khan Academy, PBS Kids, Sesame Street and so many others, choices abound.

Whether it’s education-focused videos or just content to keep your kids entertained and moving, there seems to be something for everyone. Which is why it’s important to know your own child’s needs.

“What do they easily engage with?” Minor asks. “Are they more tactile? Do they like working with their hands? And then, what excites them? Do they get really excited about and feel successful when they complete a workbook page or do they feel really excited and successful when they complete a science experiment?” 

Those are the questions parents should try to answer when making their plan. 

Fortunately, many subscription-based offerings allow for a trial period. Minor explained that’s a great way to see what works for your family.

“I would recommend looking into a few trials right now and seeing which ones your child really engages with and feels successful in doing.”

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The other article I read discussed the different types of options for homeschooling, like the charter school option we selected to forming learning pods at home.

Growing interest in true, hands-on home school options as school year nears by Amanda del Castillo at ABC7News.com in the Bay Area discussed how parents can homeschool. Here’s an excerpt:

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) — It’s no secret the pandemic is pushing parents to become more involved in their child’s education.

Education experts say the move toward true home schooling is growing across the state, and right here in the Bay Area. The approach is different from the distance learning expected this fall, as it’s known to be more hands-on.

While navigating options for education during COVID-19 may seem overwhelming, the Homeschool Association of California (HSC) said there’s proof that more parents are pivoting to homeschooling.

“Distance learning and homeschooling are two different things,” HSC board member and secretary treasurer, Jamie Heston told ABC7 News. “With distance learning, you are tied legally to a school. They’re telling you what you need to do. They’re directing the education.”

She continued, “True homeschooling is when you are directing the education. That doesn’t mean that you have to do everything yourself. That can encompass using classes, or tutors, or other parents.”

Heston said parents are able to use online class curriculum and other resources to find success.

“So, you’re directing the education but you’re not necessarily doing all of it yourself,” Heston added.

She also serves as a moderator of several local home school groups, and is a home school consultant.

Heston explained she usually points parents in the direction of Charter Schools. It’s a public school option that offers resources, and teachers to support homeschooling.

“Generally, for families who are going to just home school for a short time and pop back into school… I usually recommend using a charter because that’s still a public school, but you’re doing the day to day work at home.”

According to the article, it states the charter schools have huge waiting lists, but I think it’s still worth checking out. They may have alternatives and several different programs still available.

The article gave advice to comply legally in California for homeschooling, which is important.

“Create a small private school in your home, which is how I’ve always home schooled,” she said. “And that’s filing the private school affidavits and keeping a few things on file. The government has no say in how private schools are run. So, you have a lot of decision making and a lot of responsibility as a small private school.”

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) lists three options to comply with California’s Home School Law:

  • Option 1: Homeschooling as a home-based private school
  • Option 2: Homeschooling with a private school satellite program (PSP)
  • Option 3: Homeschooling via instruction by a private tutor

In the South Bay, A TEAM Homeschool Community Executive Director Ann Wolfe said the pandemic is forcing parents to become more involved.

“Parents are more engaged, more on-board,” Wolfe told ABC7 News. “Listening to their kids, and not just expecting somebody else to do all the educating.”

She’s home-schooled for nearly 20 years.

“A friend and I decided to start our own,” she said, referring to the A TEAM program. “And we brought in teachers to teach those things that we didn’t want to teach. We started in our homes and then eventually went into facilities, church facilities, and expanded our programs.”

Now, Wolfe provides support for home-schoolers.

“The ranges from everything from PE to physics, and from Kindergarten through 12th grade,” she explained. “Ao people can pick and choose- a la carte- whatever classes they want, whatever days they want, to round out their homeschooling curriculum.”

About the growing interest, Wolfe explained, “I just see all these Facebook groups popping up- Pandemic Pods.”

“People coming on home school groups that have been around for a while and asking, ‘Hey, what do I do about this? How do I home school legally?’ And all these different questions,” she told ABC7 News. “I’ve received emails from people saying, ‘I’m considering homeschooling for the fall. Can you tell me something about your program? Or how do I do this?’ And so, a lot more interest in homeschooling that I’ve never really seen before.”

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The swim team offered lots of fun times with friends, teammates and coaches.

Have you considered homeschooling during the pandemic? If your schools aren’t reopening what are your plans?

Day 89 Shelter in Place: More Change

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The park near my home where I’ve been walking Waffles.

I have two big changes in my “new normal.” One, because our city pool hasn’t opened up yet, I finally dove into our backyard pool to swim. It’s too short to do more than ten strokes, so I ordered a swim bungee cord that connects to a velcro strap that goes around my waist. It took me a day or two to figure out this is really good exercise — although I don’t swim as long as I would at Masters in the city pool. When you swim against the bungee, it’s resistance training and I get really sore!

I’ve done five days of swimming and I’m making progress. My back and arms are killing me. I should have started this 88 days ago, but hey I’m doing it now! When I take off the contraption, I feel free like I can fly through the water. This has to be good for me in addition to my daily walks.IMG_5883

The second big change comes tomorrow. My girl and Waffles the pug have decided to return to their lives in the Bay Area. I do know this is for the best but wow. I am going to miss them both. I’m getting a little teary-eyed at the thought.

One of the blessings of this horrific pandemic has been the time we got to share together while sheltering in place. It gave us time together for several months that I doubt would have ever happened without COVID-19. I’m happy for her to move on with her life, but yes, I’m going to miss her and Waff.

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Waffles on my lap. I’m going to miss this good boy!

How is your life changing through these days?

 

 

My first two tips for swim parents

This is one of my first posts about being a swim parent. It’s fun to look back on an article that prompted a slew of other articles with tips about swim parenting. I’ve definitely learned a lot about mistakes I made with my kids as well as relished the friendships we made along the journey. At the time, these two tips were so important to me that I believed they were the “top two tips.” Today, I would put them somewhere lower down the list! 

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My daughter has almost completed her age-group swim experience that began at age 5. She has a few weeks left with the team she’s been with for 13 years — and then she leaves for college.

If swim parents of USA Swimming age groupers were to ask me for advice I have two top tips.

ontheblocksNUMBER ONE.

Never lie to your coach. Reinforce to your child to never lie to their coach.

NUMBER TWO.
Respect the planning that goes into a year-long swim calendar and schedule your vacations accordingly.

diveThe lying sounds ridiculous and obvious, right? Your child never lies. You never lie. But, you’d be surprised. Even if you truly fall in the category of the family that never lies, others do lie. What happens if your child is asked by another swimmer to not tell why they missed practice? Or, what if your child knows that a teammate is at Disneyland and not sick in bed and the coach asks her point blank? It all comes out in the end — so avoid this embarrassment — and never, ever lie. When a coach finds out the truth, which inevitably will happen, your swimmer will lose credibility. How does he or she get that trust back?

blurryswimThe second tip is also a matter of respect. If your swimmer is a serious year-round swimmer, there will be a certain point in their career when you just can’t take off whenever you want. Time-wise, it’s usually around the age of 12 or 13 for girls. Perhaps a little older for boys. I bet you didn’t know that the coach has training cycles and plans out an entire year’s practice in advance — sometimes plans 2 to 3 years out or longer? I bet you didn’t realize that when you go visit Aunt Sally for a week at Christmas you may be missing a huge workout week that is setting up your swimmer for success for the rest of the season? Respect your coaches and their training cycles. They actually put in vacation weeks during their year’s plan. It’s so much better for your swimmer to have your family’s calendar and the team’s on the same track.

katdiveMy two cents worth. What advice do you have for successful swim parenting? If you have a tip, please post it below!swimblog5

What to tell your daughter on graduation night

Graduation has been difficult this year with COVID-19. Instead of the normal ceremonies and all-night Disneyland celebrations in Southern California, we’ve had drive-through ceremonies and grad signs posted in yards. I wrote the following story during my daughter’s celebration of graduating from high school. I believe this message resonates for parents and graduates today. 
katwide
Today my little girl graduates high school. What a joy she has been to raise, teach and hang out with. I remember her kindergarten interview where she had to be tested for one of the coveted spots at St. Theresa’s. She had fun buns on her head and ankle high “Britney Boots,” marketed for little girls dreaming of becoming Britney Spears. She boldly entered the kindergarten class and announced to the world that she was “Robert’s little sister.”

IMG_4888Today, I have a tall, wise-cracking young lady with a big smile and sparkle in her eye. If I could tell my daughter three things she needs to know for her next adventure called college, what would it be? 

katpromharryFirst…

“To thine own self be true.” Don’t worry about what other people think. Do what you know is right. This famous quote is from Polonius to his son Laertes, before Laertes boards a boat to Paris in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Even though it’s pretty old, it still resonates today.

katsurfSecond…

Happiness is not having a boyfriend or being thin. My mom would tell me the worst things when I was my daughter’s age — mainly focused on the need to “have a man” — or that “a man would make me happy.” This must be a throwback to my mother’s generation, where a woman’s identity and self-worth were wrapped up in a spouse. Instead, I will tell my daughter that happiness is found within yourself — by doing something that you love. Once you find happiness in yourself, only then can you share it with others.

swimmer4Last…

Don’t worry about what your career or major will be. You will figure it out. Don’t feel pressure about it. Most people going into college that have a major, change their minds anyway. Get your basic requirements out of the way and then after taking different classes you will discover what you don’t like and what you do like.katandrobert

 

And most importantly, not even on the list — I love you.

 

Utah Swimming and Dive  Kat WickhamWhat three things would you tell your daughter on graduation night?