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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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?

Sharing daily inspiration with your kids

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Back in the day: summer vacation in Laguna Beach.

One year ago, Thanksgiving week, my college roommate and family came to our house for Thanksgiving dinner. My girlfriend stayed with us a few days past Thanksgiving and I learned how she and her two brothers and mom share a little inspiration daily. My kids and I started this practice and we’ve kept it up for a year so far–at least weekly. It’s brought a smile to my face all year long. Read more how you can share inspiration with your family thanks to the miracle of today’s technology:

When my college roommate was visiting after Thanksgiving, I would hear her phone ping every morning with texts.

Her mom, who is in her 80s, lives alone and asks that my college roommate and her two brothers make some contact via text every morning. That way, they know that she’s okay.

I’d hear the familiar ping of my friend’s phone. She’d say, “That’s from mom. Listen to what she has to say today….”

Then she’d read an inspirational quote that her mom sent. Her brothers would chime in and my friend would respond as well.

I thought, what a great idea. I’m a terrible worrier, and if I don’t hear from my kids for a few days or weeks, I get more worried. With one child in the Bay area and the other in Utah, I feel like they’re both too far away. I sent my kids a group text and explained how it would work. We would send an inspiring note to each other by noon each day. It only takes a moment, we’d check in and pass along some inspiration. Also, I’d know that they were okay.

“Put your heart, mind and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.” —Swami Sivananda

That was my first text. I told them, “Now you guys need to respond by noon with a quote or a ok thanks,” I texted.

“Would that be ‘an’ okay, thanks. Not a,” my daughter texted back.

She then responded with a meme with the following words:

“What are a few things that have inspired you lately?

To be better than everyone. Cause I hate everyone.”

I take it she wasn’t enjoying my inspirational quote thing so much.

My son responded with “I don’t like inspirational quotes, so here is a good painting.”

A Vase of Roses–Van Gogh, 1890

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The next day, I sent a quote and my daughter responded with “Eew that’s so and so’s bio on Twitter. New quote please.”

I sent “Winners never quit. Quitters never win.” It was a quote we had on the back of our swim club’s shirts a few years ago.

“Except Michael Phelps quit and he’s a winner,” she pointed out. Yes, she’s right about that, too.

My son sent a painting by Henri Matisse.img_2866

“I like it. It reminds me of SpongeBob,” my daughter said.

“Fun fact: the SpongeBob art was inspired by his cut-outs,” he answered.

My daughter texted this:img_9775

It’s been interesting to see what they come up with on a daily basis. It adds a little joy to my day like we’re sharing special secrets.

And then my son called, “Thank you, Mom, for starting the inspiration thing. I really love it.”

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Me and my college roommate.

 

Friends caught in a freak storm in Santa Barbara Harbor

 

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A lovely evening after a Sunday sail–earlier this year.

 

Our good friends, Rob and Deb, were on their normal Sunday afternoon sail in and around Santa Barbara Harbor when a freak “microburst” hit. Read more about the storm here.

Rob grew up sailing as a young lad in Australia and he and Debbie are skilled sailors. The first time we visited them in Santa Barbara, we found ourselves in a yachting race—and my husband and I had no clue what we were doing.

Here’s Debbie’s account of their harrowing ordeal:

She said the clouds were white and puffy above the mountains and she remembered pointing them out to their three guests. She watched as they turned from white, to gray to black. Then, she remembers Rob pointing out a line of rain coming at them across the water. One of her friends said, “Look there’s more coming behind it!”

The next thing she knew they got hit by 80 mph winds and their boat fell over flat. At the time, Debbie was standing on the bow pulpit—that railing that extends beyone the bow. She said she was hanging on for dear life but was able to push herself upright while the boat was on its side.

During this frantic time, one guest fell overboard and the mainsail flapped around in the air and water.

Debbie said there was zero visibility with pelting rain, hail and wind and they had lost control of their boat. When the microburst hit, they were turning left into the harbor by the pier. Debbie’s thoughts were for the group of kids who had been sailing in the harbor. There were dozens of kids as young as 10 in a youth sailing group capsized and hanging onto the centerboards of their boats. Debbie was afraid they would run over the kids as their boat spun this way and that. She said they did hit a paddle boarder, who dove off his board to avoid them.

Unsure how long the ordeal lasted, she said Rob was able to gain control of the boat eventually and sail it with the jib since they had no motor power. They avoided hitting large yachts, the rocky breakwater and various other hazards. Debbie said the harbor was filled with floating items like shoes, umbrellas, boat cushions, ladders, etc. She wanted to get towed, but Rob said no, that they were okay and other people needed to be pulled out of the water and rescued. After the storm passed, they were able to dock at Marina One. Their overboard companion called and said he had been rescued by people in a dinghy and for some reason his cell phone was still working.

Rob, Debbie and their guests worked for the next hours cleaning up the mess inside their boat with it taking on water and everything tossed around. Later that night, Rob returned to their boat with their old mainsail and with the help of friends returned their boat to their slip. Debbie said her friends all said they’d go sailing with them again.

 

 

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Debbie and my daughter on a sail in August.

 

 

I’m so thankful they survived and that even though dozens of people capsized or fell overboard, everyone was well and accounted for. We almost joined them for the weekend but decided instead to escape the desert heat up at Big Bear rather than trekking to Santa Barbara on a holiday weekend and fighting traffic and the fire through Los Angeles.

Am I grateful for that decision, especially after hearing Debbie’s harrowing account of their afternoon sail! I don’t know if I could have stayed calm like Rob and Debbie were able to. When we drove home from the mountains on Sunday, we got hit by a flash flood in the high desert–at about the same time as our friend’s storm in Santa Barbara. I was so freaked out driving into blackness, thunder, lightning, and rain pelting down in buckets. We lost visibility and I was afraid we’d be swept away. And that was on a highway in a car—not out in the ocean on a boat! I think watching all the devastation in Houston has me hypersensitive to disasters.

My nervousness has been memorialized by Rob during a sail years ago in a video with me repeating in a frightened voice to my kids, “Here comes a wave!” The sea doesn’t back up my fear—it’s glassy and calm.

Like I said, I’m thankful my friends and everyone in Santa Barbara are okay!

Have you been caught in a storm or natural disaster? Did you stay calm?

 

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Rob at the helm, giving my daughter instructions in August. Below are dolphins we followed a few years ago.

 

 

 

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Debbie on the bow pulpit, exactly where she was when the storm hit.

 

10 Things I Noticed About Summer Vacation

 

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Waffles on our morning beach walk.

 

ONE
I was stressed the day we left for vacation. Had I packed everything we needed?

TWO
VRBO disappointed me. The condo was way smaller than it looked online. I didn’t realize there was only one window that looked out into a parking lot and no ocean breeze because it was on the wrong side of the building.

THREE
After three days, I relaxed. We aren’t moving into the condo for good. It’s only a week and we can make the best of it. With my glass half full, I can say it’s clean, comfortable and we love the location a block from the beach.

 

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The marina in Santa Barbara.

FOUR
We are outside every day enjoying the fresh air. It’s such a big deal to be out of the AC of home where it’s 115 degrees and more.

FIVE
Sailing was exhilarating, breathtaking and yes—filled with fresh air.

 

 

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Sailing.

SIX
We love Carpinteria because of friends. Dinners al fresco, walks along the beach at sunset, and swimming are all better with friends. We’re fortunate to have best friends who love to entertain and cook for us. We’re even more fortunate they didn’t get tired of us after a week.

SEVEN
Morning beach walks are the best. They’re better than my walk around the neighborhood and park at home. Waffles the pug loved his beach time and playing with new friends.

EIGHT
I loved having my daughter join us for vacation. I hope it’s a tradition she continues for years to come.

NINE
Swimming helped me relax. After swimming masters with my friend and her daughter as a coach, I felt good for the rest of the day.

TEN
Why don’t we live in Carpinteria? Why was our vacation so short?

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My daughter lap swimming.

How Best to Deal With Your Kid’s Roommate Drama

Now that your child is in college, be prepared. Roommate drama is a thing. How can parents help–or should we?

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University of Utah, Salt Lake City

 

I experienced drama with my first roommate at the University of Washington. I won’t go into detail, but needless to say it wasn’t a pleasant experience. She was from out-of-state, didn’t know a soul, and after a few fun weeks of acting like besties, we were unable to live with each other. I remember her passive aggressive nature, and I never knew what I had done to offend her. But, she wouldn’t speak to me for days on end. Next, she glommed onto my brother and I watched them as an inseparable couple—except she’d flirt with one particular guy behind his back. We ended that roommate situation after two quarters and never spoke to each other again.

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University of Washington, Seattle–my alma mater

My son had a bad situation his freshman year. He and his roommate filled out the computerized roommate pairings at UCSB and they housed together because they had the exact same SAT scores and similar interests. However, the roommate was an hour from his home and girlfriend, had a ton of high school friends with him, and my son just didn’t click or want to get sucked into the continuation of high school life.

 

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UC Santa Barbara

 

This weekend, we went to my daughter’s “Parents and Move-In Weekend.” For the second year, she’s living off-campus in a house with three other girls. She has a large, yet cozy room she’s decorated in her own style. But, inevitably there’s roommate trouble from time to time. Whether it’s someone who hoards dishes under their bed, roommates who never do the dishes, or another who’s boyfriend has moved in for 60 days…things will happen between college kids living in close quarters. They are used to having their own space. There’s bound to be tension as they figure out how to be adults, living with new people.

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My daughter’s living quarters.

I’m glad we were there for her when some roommate drama cropped up. Here’s a few ideas to help with roommate drama:

One

As a parent, stay out of it unless it’s a dangerous situation or may result in trouble with the landlord.

Two

Give support to your child and let them vent to you. Help them figure out what is the best course of action.

Three

Why are they anxious or upset? It may be deeper than what they tell you on the surface.

Four

It’s important for your child to not keep things bottled up, but talk things out. Whether it’s talking in person or texting—just make sure they are able to express themselves.

Five

Advise your child to think things through before they act. Are they willing to live with the outcome of a roommate confrontation? Or, is it better to let it go?

Six

Let your child know that it’s important to stand up for themselves. It’s not okay to be taken advantage of.

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Dusk at Liberty Park, Salt Lake City

 

What roommate problems did you have? How do you help your kids handle roommate drama?

On another note, I read in the Seattle Times that the dorms I lived in are being demolished!

To Swim or Not to Swim: Reflections on a Summer Beach Vacation

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I’m a much better vacationer today than I was in my 20s. I’ve learned how to relax.

When I was in my 20s, my yearly vacation was spent going home to Washington. I had to see and do all the PNW things. Ride a ferry to the islands, dig clams, fish, go hiking in the woods, go to the city, ride a bike around Greenlake, go to my cabin and spend the night, visit my best friend and my other best friends—and all my friends. Visit my favorite professors. I had my Daytimer with me and scheduled events by the half hour! It would drive my husband crazy and soon I made my annual jaunts home by myself.

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This year, we rented a house in a sleepy little beach town near Santa Barbara. Our good friends live close by and we had many fun meals together, planned at the last minute. We spent hours walking on the beach, riding beach cruisers through town and sitting on the beach reading. I am reading the third Neapolitan novel by Elena Ferrante and there’s nothing better in my mind than having long stretches of time to read a good book.

My daughter came with us plus a swim friend from her age group days. Isn’t it amazing how swimming bonds friends through life? They’re both college swimmers and they ran, lifted weights, swam and got massages.13880146_10210575966699190_5499508276428958217_n

The only downfall of vacation was the spotting of great white sharks at the beach. Only two hours after the girls had an ocean swim, a 15-foot great white was spotted exactly where they had been swimming.

IMG_3338A lifeguard told me that last week, she watched a seal by the swimming dock. It was pulled underwater, tossed up and eaten by a large creature with a fin. She said it was like watching National Geographic as the water turned red.

I was looking forward to ocean swimming and kayaking. I was going to try SUP (stand up and paddle) for the first time. But, like I said, I’m better at vacations now and sitting on the beach with a book made more sense, given the great white sharks.

Video of the girls swimming before the sharks were spotted: 

What’s your favorite thing to do on vacation?