Now that the summer is over….

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My daughter and Waffles at home this weekend.

My world is a little less crazy in September than it was in August. Of course, it’s only September 2nd. But, I haven’t left our desert in more than a week. The last two weeks of August, I trekked from Palm Springs to Santa Barbara to Phoenix—and my daughter and husband threw in a trip to Salt Lake City in between.

I was supposed to help my daughter set up her new home in Arizona this Labor Day weekend, but after my husband’s shoulder surgery Tuesday, I postponed my trip. A friend lectured me about leaving my husband alone after surgery. She said that my daughter should drive home to help us out—not me drive to see her. “After all, the new house isn’t going anywhere, she can get by with slowly unpacking, and you can help her at a later date,” she said. My husband did need attention, just a little, and my daughter happily agreed to come home for the weekend.

It’s only a short drive from the Phoenix area to Palm Springs. Four hours to be exact on one freeway—“the 10.” In So Cal, we say “the” in front of every highway. They don’t do that in NorCal or Washington, where I grew up.

My son lived four hours away in Santa Barbara, which is in the opposite direction of Arizona. In the words of a native Southern Californian to drive from Palm Springs to UCSB, “you take the 10 to the 210 to the 118 to the 23 to the 101.” I feel so much more comfortable with the drive to Arizona on “the 10.” Period. Except for the big trucks, which I don’t like, it’s a one-shot deal. I hope to get there soon to help her set up her new home.

I’m also anxious to get a fresh start to the fall. I’m relieved we made it through so many hurdles. Vacation, the move, the surgery, etc. are all behind us in the rearview mirror. It’s time to look ahead.

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Olive the cat seems to have survived another few days with Waffles.

What do you think about the end of summer and the start of fall?

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7 Tips for parents of college freshman on move-in day

Move-in day for the parents of college freshman can be overwhelming. Here are a few tips I wrote when we moved our daughter into her dorm room this week four years ago.

 

The check-in table at Move-in day.

The check-in table at Move-in day.

Yesterday was move-in day for our youngest. It was easy to spot check-in with bright red pop-up tents, a field of red carts and dollies, and a line of students ready to help move us in. Not us, but my daughter. It sure felt like us, though.

Being 15 minutes early was an excellent idea. There was parking. There were carts. There was a small line. Later in the day — parking was in the outer limits — and it was wall-to-wall students and parents making their way to the dorms with carloads of matching “Big Box College-Bound” gear.

In her dorm room getting settled.

In her dorm room getting settled.

Once in the room, we began lifting bedding, towels and clothing out of the cart. I wondered if I’d be strong, without tears, and how I’d get through the day. 

Here’s what worked and didn’t work:

1. Don’t try and unpack for your kid. Don’t try and put things away. This is their space, their new home. They need to make it their own.

2. Don’t hover and stay in their room. Make sure they have what they need and leave them alone. Be sure to be nearby for when they will invariably call.

3. Be prepared to shop multiple times during move-in day. We made one trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond, Home Depot and Costco — and five to Target. This was after we drove a packed-to-the-hilt Sequoia through four states with everything she needed.

4. Make lists. The large stores have lists for your student to make shopping easier. Of course, they have way more things on their lists than you actually need, but it’s a good starting point. Make your own list with the store’s list as a guide. After you move in your freshman’s things, you’ll discover what you didn’t think about or forgot — like strips to hang up pictures and art. Revise and rewrite your list as the day goes on.

5. Don’t try to stay up with the roomie. Some roommates will come equipped with flat-screen TVs, $1,000 bikes, and the best and latest technology. Don’t worry about what they have and you do not. In a dorm room, keep remembering the mantra — LESS IS MORE!

6. Don’t go out and buy a router for the dorm’s WiFi until you read the section on technology on the college’s website. Most likely routers are not allowed and it’s a simple passcode that is needed instead.

7. Feed your student. He or she may be so intent on getting unpacked and settled and meeting dorm mates, that he or she won’t take time to eat. Make sure to stock bananas, apples, yogurt and other healthy snacks in their room and fridge.

The swim tee shirt quilt I made for my daughter's dorm room. Years of memories.

The swim tee shirt quilt I made for my daughter’s dorm room. Years of memories.

I made it through the day without tears — mostly. It was a long, busy and tiring day. When my husband and I stopped for lunch — alone — and I realized that we were truly alone — the tears ran down my cheeks. I wiped them off and prepared myself for battle for the next stop at Target. When it’s time to say goodbye — well, I’ll tell you how that goes. You can read about how I said goodbye here.

18 years ago.Here’s a song “Teach Your Children Well” that fits my mood today. Listen and enjoy!

She’s leaving me again


IMG_8520Four years ago to the day, we drove our youngest to college. I was teary-eyed when we said our final goodbyes. I wrote about the experience complete with our text messages here. Roll the calendar four full years later—years filled with joy, heart, excitement and anxiety—and she’s getting ready to leave me again.

I remember when we dropped our son, the firstborn, off at college. It was heartbreaking to me. I cried like I was losing a limb. With our youngest, the tears poured down my cheeks, but I was able to get myself somewhat under control.

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My son all grown up.

I’ve got mixed emotions this week. She came home after taking her last two college classes in Paris and Rome. I’m used to having her here even though it’s only been two short weeks. I’m used to having her dog Waffles with me, too.  He’s spent every day since the middle of May with me. Olive the cat is the only member of the household who will be celebrating when Waffles walks out the door. I say I have mixed emotions because I’m excited for her. Also, she reminded me that even I can drive to her house to visit! She says “even I” because I’m notoriously a bad driver and have anxiety on freeways. But, it’s not that far away.

At the moment, my daughter is packing her car. Tomorrow morning she’ll leave for good, moving to her new home in Arizona and ready to take on adulthood. Am I ready for this? Is she ready for it? Oh my. I’ll let you know how it all goes.

I will for the first time in my life, seriously have an empty nest.

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I’m seriously going to miss this boy.

How did you feel when you said goodbye to your kids?

The privilege of hanging out with our grown kids

Last summer, I spent a few days with my daughter in gorgeous Salt Lake City. Fast forward a year and we have a few days with both kids at the beach. I’ll write about the experience in a few days of how it’s different from when they were youngsters at the beach. Here’s what I wrote last year:

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On top of the world at Deer Valley, Utah.

 

I spent five, count them, five glorious days with my 21-year-old daughter in Salt Lake City, where she’s a student. I shared a bit of her life, her territory. We had a few plans like driving up to the resort town of Park City to be tourists. But mostly, my objective was to be with her.

During the past three years when I’ve visited my daughter, there’s been zero one-on-one time for mother and daughter. We visit, my husband and I, when there’s a college swim meet. We take her out for dinner Friday night, which is nice. She meets us at our favorite hotel usually with a teammate or two in tow.

I don’t mind this at all, and we love any moment we get to spend with her. But, it’s quick, clean and disinfected time together. The next morning my husband and I go for a big walk around town. We make our way to the pool 30 minutes before the meet begins and catch up with other swim parents. Then we watch the meet, which is always exciting. Afterward, we wait for warm-down, team meetings and showers.

Sundays we get all day with her unless we have an early morning flight. We’ve been taking the 9 p.m. flight home lately, so we get extra time together.

This trip was entirely different. I traveled on my own. I had the option of my favorite hotel, my daughter’s living room hide-a-bed or sleeping in her room on a plush, thick mattress, kept for relatives and recruits. I opted to be in her room. I didn’t want to inconvenience her roommates with “Mom” taking over their living room.

 

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Waffles the pug puppy.

I wrote while she swam and went to school. I took the pup “Waffles” on walks, the first one each day to get coffee. Seriously, I don’t know how four girls survive without any coffee or coffee maker in the house? The rest of the day and evening was whatever we decided to do. We walked, played tourists in Park City, rode the ski lifts in Deer Valley, walked some more, shopped at Target for supplies, ate sushi and lobster rolls. We also spent a lot of time in her room watching Gilmore Girls, reading, and just being together.

I feel so honored that my daughter wanted to spend these days with me. She didn’t feel like I was intruding or that she had to cater to me. We like each other’s company. I’m very proud of how “together” her life is. She’s on top of her homework, swim practice, and does extra cardio and fitness, plus takes care of all the little stuff like grocery shopping, cooking and having a social life.

I must have done something right. Or, in spite of me, she’s figured out this thing called life.

About those lobster rolls! We went to Freshies Lobster Co. in Park City. I discovered this amazing place from a blog called femalefoodie. Seriously, it was the best meal I’ve had in three years of visits to the state of Utah.

 

What is your favorite thing to do with your grown kids?

Are you a “wimpy” parent?

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I was fascinated with the sound of “wimpy parenting.” I wondered, did I fit the bill? I looked through the list of bullet points and no, for once I didn’t do all of these things. Therefore I’m not a wimp! That’s the good news.

The bad news is I did plenty of them. I had no issue with saying “No!” and set plenty of limits for my kids, but I never liked to see them fail. I often protected them from their choices and tried to fix their problems.

In the article “Dr. Randy Cale’s Terrific Parenting: Wimpy parenting makes for wimpy kids” from The Saratogian Lifestyle, here are his traits that make a parent a wimp:

Many parents today seem to have graduate degrees in wimpy parenting. What are the characteristics of the wimpy parent?

• Can’t seem to set limits for children

• Protect them from the consequences of poor choices

• Respond to almost every request or demand from child

• Try to fix every problem their child encounters

• Constant work harder at their child’s life…than the child does

• Cringe at the thought of their son or daughter being upset at them

• Incessantly negotiate to keep child happy

• Becomes personal chauffeur on demand

• Let’s child decide what good for them (i.e., food, video games, phone time, apps, etc.)

• Changes plans in an instant when child requests something

•  Can hardly stand the thought of just saying ‘no’ to their child

How many on the list have you done? I did four of them a lot, so a little less than half. I was so good at saying no to my kids that when we’d go to Disneyland and we were corraled into a gift shop after “It’s a Small World,” my kids wouldn’t ask for a toy! I had them trained to not ask by saying “no” so often. What dreary little lives they led, right? Hardly, but I didn’t want to be the dad who bought his daughter an ice cream cone while we were waiting for our table at a restaurant with friends. I also didn’t want to be the mom who caves and buys their kids something to make them stop a temper tantrum in a store. No, I was the one who let them have a hissy fit and tried to ignore it.

Here’s what the consequences are to being a wimpy parent according to Cale:

SO, WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? I GO EASY ON MY KIDS

It’s not a big deal. If you have space for your children in your home when they are 35, and have a trust fund set up for them to live on. In other words, they should be just fine, if you are prepared to care for them forever. They will not be happy or satisfied, but they should be okay.

WHY SO BLEAK A FUTURE FOR THESE CHILDREN OF WIMPY PARENTS?

Everything about wimpy parentings puts children on the wrong path to excel or find happiness in life. It creates a set of expectations that is not in line with reality. The wimpy parent is teaching their child that they can get everything that they want, with virtually no effort. In what world is this true?

These children grow up expecting everything while giving very little. This ‘entitled’ attitude not only fails in relationships, it fails in the work place. What happens is that these young adults end up ‘entitled’ to a room in the basement, and ‘entitled’ to dad’s paycheck.

They also grow up expecting few limits on their behaviors or actions. Having felt few consequences for their choices, they believe they can get by with just about anything. In fact, often they do not believe that consequences apply to them!

Who is Cale? According to The Saratogian Lifestyle: Dr. Randy Cale, a Clifton Park-based parenting expert, author, speaker and licensed psychologist, offers practical guidance for a host of parenting concerns. His website, http://www.TerrificParenting.com, offers free parenting guidance and an email newsletter. Readers can learn more by reviewing past articles found on the websites of The Saratogian, The Record and The Community News. Submit questions to DrRandyCale@gmail.com.

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One of my favorite pics taken in Laguna. Look at the love–pinches and squeezes, too.

What are your thoughts about wimpy parents? Are you one and how have you changed?

Why does my daughter find me so annoying?

My kids not wanting me to take their pic.

My kids not wanting me to take their pic.

I wrote this after my daughter’s first year in college. Out of all my posts, this one pops up from most frequently as being read. Now that my daughter is finishing college, she may still feel I’m annoying, but she expresses those feelings with more maturity. She’ll be coming home next week after two months abroad and I can’t wait to see how she’s changed and grown.

I understand how she feels. After all, I was once 19 years old. I remember it very clearly.

Everything my mom did, I found unbelievably annoying.

I’ll never forget sitting with her in the car, getting ready to shop at Bellevue Square. She had parked the car. She was fumbling through her purse, making sure she had what she needed. She reapplied her lipstick. Dug through her purse for her wallet to look through credit cards. Searched several times to check where she placed the keys.

Mom and me in the early 90s.

Mom and me in the early 90s.

Would we never leave the car? Would I be stuck all day? I must have said something to her quite snippy, or flat out mean. A few tears rolled down her cheeks. Which made me more upset with her.

Isn’t it a sad feeling, transitioning from a mom who could do no wrong—from changing diapers, to cooking their favorite spaghetti, to taping treasured colorings on the fridge that were made just for you—to being the person of their abject disdain?

It’s a tough new role. Let me tell you.

But, having gone through these feelings myself, I understand. I’m visiting my mom this week in her assisted living center. I talked about it with her, what I’m going through now, and what I felt like when I was 19. Fortunately, she doesn’t remember me ever being a snarky 19-year-old.

For some reason, I’ve gained more patience throughout my life and that has been a blessing. I’ve also learned forgiveness.

19 years ago.

A few months old.

Something else, I’ve learned through the years of parenting: this too shall pass. 

It’s called independence and freedom. We want our children to grow and become separate human beings that can stand on their own. Sometimes they need to separate from us. A good time to do that is during their senior year of high school, or their freshman year of college. It’s a good thing. I keep telling myself that.

However, we also want to be treated with respect, and once again—someday—to be cherished.

A beach day with my daughter.

A beach day with my daughter.

I wrote more about separating from our kids and the experiences we go through when they leave for college here.

How do you respond when your kids think you’re annoying?

What are the worst sports parenting mistakes?

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I was listening to a webinar from “Growing Champions for Life” sports parenting expert David Benzel and he went through a list of nine of the worst sports parenting mistakes. It was during a talk about whether to push our kids in sports–or not.

Who is David Benzel? He’s a former sports parent himself, whose kids were athletic, loved their sports and made it to the pros—as he says—in spite of him. He felt like kids were coached in sports, but felt he was sorely lacking in knowledge about being a sports parent. He said that he and his wife changed throughout the years and now he coaches sports parents in many different sports including gymnasts, tennis, baseball and swimming.

I discovered Benzel on USA Swimming and have read his book from Chump to Champ, plus I have several copies of his little booklet “5 Powerful Strategies for Sport Parent Success” lying around the house in case I need a refresher.

I too changed through the years as I learned from my swim mom mistakes. I continued to grow as a parent, and looking back there are many things I’d never dream of doing today that I thought were perfectly normal years ago.

The list of 9 awful things sports parents do that Benzel presented was from the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University. 

Here’s the list:

ONE
Exhibit an outcome orientation.

TWO
Are critical, negative and overbearing.

THREE
Apply pressure to win or perform.

FOUR
Make sport too serious.

FIVE
Are over-involved and controlling.

SIX
Compare child to other athletes.

SEVEN
Distract child during competitions.

EIGHT
Restrict player’s social life.

NINE
Too much sports talk.

Between me and my hubby, I think we’ve got this list covered. We’ve been guilty of every single one on the list.482023_4501677623832_667860262_n

How many on this list have you done? What are things you’ve done in the past as a parent that you wouldn’t do now?