Worried about friends and the fire


Carpinteria beach walk Thanksgiving morning.


When I woke up this morning, I was shocked and scared to see Carpinteria trending on Twitter. If you’re watching the news anywhere, you probably have heard that Southern California is on fire. I read that parts of Carpinteria were being evacuated. I texted my friends in Carp to find out if they were evacuating or if they’re okay.

These are our dear friends we spent Thanksgiving with and our friendship dates back 30 years. I told them they can come here and stay with us if they have to evacuate or want to get out of the horrific air. They are prepared to leave at a moment’s notice and my friend said she took her valuables, passports etc. to a friend 30 miles to the north of her. At 8 a.m. she told me the fire was four miles from their home. 

I’ve been checking the news reports all day and I haven’t heard anything more about Carpinteria, and I haven’t heard back from our friends, so I’m pretty sure they’re okay. I feel so badly for everyone affected by the fires. We have friends in Ventura, too and we’re thankful the fire didn’t reach their house, although so many people have lost everything they own.

I love Carpinteria and my husband and I have talked about moving there some day. But, boy our friends have had a tough time. Just three months ago, I wrote about how they got caught in a microburst on their sailboat. You can read that story here.

Please, everyone, heed the warnings to evacuate and stay safe!


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Map from the LA TIMES.


Do you know anyone affected by the fires?

Some of my memories from Carpinteria and friends below.



Carpinteria State Beach.





Summer vacation in Carpinteria.




Rob and Deb, our Carpinteria friends of 30 years.




Waffles and Kat at Carpinteria State Beach, August 2017.




Prior to moving our son to UCSB, we went with our friends to Rincon Point.




Sunset, Thanksgiving 2017.



Sailing in Santa Barbara.


Thankful for friends and family on Thanksgiving



Sunset on Thanksgiving Eve.


Our first Thanksgiving without our kids. I’m thankful they are with dear friends and their families since they weren’t able to make the trek home this year. Instead of moping around the house feeling sorry about my empty nest, we’re celebrating with our close friends. It was 30 years to the day that I first met them (my husband met them through work) and we spent Thanksgiving weekend sailing with them in Santa Barbara.

Here’s to friends and family and creating memories together.

Happy Thanksgiving!



My daughter’s swim team sending out a Thanksgiving message with her pup.


Who are you sharing your Thanksgiving with? What traditions do you share with friends and family?

Finding balance as a parent in the new age of social media



Before social media was a “thing.”

Today in USA Today, there is an article with practical, sound advice for parents about kids, smartphones and social media. In “When should a kid get their first smartphone? And other parenting questions of the social media age” Brett Molina interviews Scott Steinberg, author of the book Parenting High-Tech Kids: The Ultimate Internet, Web, and Online Safety Guide.”


“You really need to help give kids the training and insights they need to make better decisions and to let them know they have safe places to turn when they need assistance, insight or help,” he said.

Meanwhile, kids are getting their first smartphone at younger ages. A 2016 study from research firm Influence Central found the average age for getting a first smartphone is 10.3 years old, down from 12 in 2012.

“We’ve got entire generations of kids who are growing up now with smartphones, online apps, and technology that is second nature to them. But we’ve done preciously little to prepare them for life in an always online and connected world,” Steinberg said.

One of the questions that Sternberg answered was, “If you had one piece of advice for parents about kids and technology, what would it be?” His answer was that we should be just as involved in our kids’ social media lives as all other aspects of their lives. I never thought of that before, but it makes sense because more and more of our children’s communication is done online. They chat with their friends, share thoughts and secrets–all online. They communicate through email with teachers. We should know what they are doing and who they are “hanging out” with.

Should we intrude on their online presence? It’s not their diary, but it’s something they are potentially sharing with the rest of the world. I was surprised to find out that one of my kids had tweeted a few things that were less than appropriate. This fact was pointed out to us by the swim coach. I was furious and embarrassed. At the time, I didn’t know how to use Twitter, or Instagram, or whatever other social media my kids were using. I only knew Facebook. It was a good lesson that my child learned before it was too late and real damage was done. I decided to keep an eye on what they were posting and got up to speed on the various platforms. Even the nicest kids may not understand what won’t look great to a future college coach, admissions or a boss. Sternberg said parents should do their homework and learn what apps their children are using.

My kids didn’t grow up with smartphones and I’m thankful for that. They got their first smartphones as teens. Often, I think our lives would be greatly improved if we tossed the smartphones out and returned to regular old phones that make phone calls and text only.


I liked it when life was less complicated and smartphones didn’t exist.


When do you think kids should get smartphones and how involved do you think parents should be in our children’s social media lives?




How ballet and swimming are eerily the same



My daughter didn’t want to be a ballerina. She wanted to swim!

There was a period of time in my life when I danced. I was as passionate about ballet as my daughter is about swimming. Today I had lunch with a fellow Catholic school mom, who not only was a mentor to me with two older children in our school, but she was one of my ballet instructors, too. I haven’t talked to her for what seems forever–except for a chance meeting at the grocery store.

Her life forever changed when my husband was urging me to put away my computer and go to work with him. I confessed to my mentor/ballet teacher that I wanted to write, not work as a stockbroker. We were sitting across the long tables in the school gym at some parent meeting.

“I’ll do it!” she said. I looked at her in disbelief. She was a former Broadway dancer, a soloist in the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular and a former ballerina. Why would she want to enter into the financial world? But she did it. She went to work in my husband’s office and I went on with writing.

But what a mistake I made. I lost my ballet class. A special time in my life when my kids were both in elementary school, I spent several days a week in the dance studio with Elyssa, my teacher. There weren’t many of us, but it was a wonderful group. I told her today that it reminds me of my Masters swim group.

Here are a few things that ballet and swimming have in common:

• While you’re working out you do keep an eye out to see what everyone else is doing.

• We have great conversations with our instructor and each other (yes, we do in Masters, too, with a firm reminder by our coach to “keep moving” if the chat lasts too long while we linger at the wall.)

• We became a close-knit group in ballet class and were supportive of one another—just like my Masters group. We had a bonding moment at the start of class while we laid on the floor stretching. That’s when we could talk and share what was going on in our lives.

• Like Masters, we had a warm-up, went through some drills (combinations at the barres) and then the main set in the pool, or in ballet class when put the barres away and move to the center.

• In ballet, we ended with jumps, just like we end with a short kick set in the pool. Then the reverence to end the class reminds me of the warm down laps before I push myself out of the pool.

• Both swimming and ballet are very physically demanding and challenging. They both require a lot of inside the brain time, too—and they offer a release and an escape from all the other stuff going on in one’s life.

Interesting that I’ve realized I’m dancing in the pool. I haven’t changed that much after all, except I’ve found swimming is better for my knees.12745503_10209017757384931_7005852646538628157_n

What type of exercise do you find the most rewarding and how does it make a difference in your life?

What is resilience and how do our kids get some?



Resilience can be learned at the pool.


1. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
“the often remarkable resilience of so many British institutions”

2. the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
“nylon is excellent in wearability and resilience”

I’ve read several articles about resilience in the last few days and it is interesting to learn why some people bounce back after defeat or failure while others collapse. It’s also enlightening to learn how parents can help their kids become more resilient. It reminded me of a conversation with therapist friend, Nicolle Walters, R.N., PH.D., Clinical Psychologist. She said “I know it sounds contrary or strange, but kids who come from dysfunctional families and had to take care of themselves are more equipped to deal with everyday problems, compared to kids who had parents who did everything for them.”
For more of my interview with Nicolle read “The Instant Gratification Generation and Helicopter Parents” here.

That thought process is reflected in a Wall Street Journal article called “The Secrets of Resilience” by Meg Jay. Here’s an excerpt:

“What does it take to conquer life’s adversities? Lessons from successful adults who overcame difficult childhoods

“Does early hardship in life keep children from becoming successful adults? It’s an urgent question for parents and educators, who worry that children growing up in difficult circumstances will fail to reach their full potential, or worse, sink into despair and dysfunction.

“Social scientists have shown that these risks are real, but they also have found a surprising pattern among those whose early lives included tough times: Many draw strength from hardship and see their struggle against it as one of the keys to their later success. A wide range of studies over the past few decades has shed light on how such people overcome life’s adversities—and how we might all cultivate resilience as well.”

I don’t mean to say that we’re failing our kids by caring for them and creating positive, stable environments. No, I think that will help them become positive and caring people. But, if they haven’t faced any problems or adversity, it may be a wake-up call when they do. In “Raising Resilience: Parenting Tips that Go the Distance” a blog by Julie Gowthorpe, PH.D. in Hitched, she writes about “how to better prepare your child for the ups and downs in life, it’s good to let them experience struggle.” She has several practical tips you can read in her article here. In addition, I’ve quoted a bit of her article:

“Every loving parent wants childhood to be a positive experience for their kids. When it comes to parenting however, only focusing on the positive is problematic because it derails children’s ability to develop resilience. Resilience, the ability to bounce back from adversity, is extremely important when teens move off to college and face problems independently.

“Since many young people seem armed with a sense of self-importance and confidence, they present as able to conquer any challenge. Unfortunately, high rates of anxiety, depression and even suicide attempts in college-age students indicate that this is not the case.

“Deluded by the belief that children should be protected from uncomfortable feelings (such as disappointment and sadness), some parents and school systems have completely undermined teaching the importance of work ethic and perseverance. The importance of learning to ‘try and try again’ has been left behind for ‘everyone gets a trophy just for being you.

“The problem with the latter is that it breeds entitled thinking patterns and disrupts learning the natural link between effort, skill and success. Without understanding natural outcomes, later-age teens can be psychologically devastated when they experience failure. With no tolerance for the emotional discomfort, it is no wonder that their mental health spirals and academic success suffers.”

I look at my kids’ lives and they both struggled more in college than I’d expected. They were coddled pretty much at home, by me. But, I do believe they faced challenges in their own ways and weren’t completely without experiencing failure during their formative years. Also, I firmly believe competitive swimming helped them learn the life lessons of hard work, not giving up, shaking it off after a failure and getting back on the blocks to reach their goals. They both have grit, which I think is related to resilience. If they truly want something, they don’t give up in their pursuit.


My daughter giving it her all in the 1,650 despite having the flu at PAC 12s.


How do you view resilience in your own lives?

Goodbye Christopher Robin: A Peek Into the Creation of Pooh

I went to see Goodbye Christopher Robin at our local theatre, the Camelot, which plays first-run, independent and foreign films. I’m so thankful to have a theater like this close-by when there seems to be an endless dirge of flops released these days.

Watching Goodbye Christopher Robin was like getting a sneak peek behind the scenes of author A.A. Milne and how he created some of the best-loved characters today. Growing up, Piglet was my favorite and my mom liked Eeyore. My mom read “The House at Pooh Corner” to me from her childhood book, before I could read myself. Goodbye Christopher Robin is a newly released British film and although reviews are mixed, I highly recommend it.images-1

The movie was very moving and I’ll warn you to bring tissue. My husband wasn’t thrilled and said that he liked to be entertained and doesn’t like all his emotions being excavated and stirred up. In my opinion, that’s what makes this movie great. You live through the horrors of post World War I England and see Milne suffer from PTSD, which I imagine wasn’t diagnosed and treated as it is today. He bought a house in the country and moved his wife and young son Christopher Robin to the peaceful countryside so he could deal with his PTSD. It was in their 100-acre wood that he and his son forged a relationship and Pooh was born. The heartache Christopher Robin faces throughout his childhood truly wants me to give this child a hug.

Here are snippets of reviews of the movie starring Domhnall Gleeson as A.A. Milne, his wife Daphne (Margot Robbie), nanny Olive (Kelly Macdonald) Young Christopher Robin (Will Tilston) and Young Adult (Alex Lawther):

Movies you should know about: ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ By Patrick Cooley, cleveland.com

“Goodbye Christopher Robin” tells a compelling story that you probably didn’t realize you wanted to know, the creation of beloved children’s character Winnie the Pooh and its impact on those who inspired it.

“It’s a little uneven, as it undergoes a wild shift in tone roughly halfway through, but it’s a well-acted and well-written story about fame and family that I hope won’t get lost in the hype of all the major movies hitting theaters in the fall and winter.”

Jane Horwitz from The Washington Post wrote a not so glowing review in ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ review: Origin story of Pooh beset by script heffalumps and casting woozles:

“In the 1920s, A.A. Milne gave a world reeling from World War I gentle books inspired by his only child and the boy’s stuffed-animal friends. The British author rendered them in verse and prose, brimming with humor and nestled among perfect illustrations by E.H. Shepard.

“Such books as ‘When We Were Very Young’ and ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ were great gifts, but their success took a toll, as the well-intentioned, but flawed film ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ aims to show. Christopher Robin Milne — called by his nickname, “Moon,” in the film — had a painful public childhood. His father felt guilt about that, and he saw his literary ambitions limited by ‘Pooh.’ ”

“Inspired by Ann Thwaite’s 1990 biography of the author and the memoirs of Christopher Milne, the script, while well researched, is stuffed with more shifts in time and tone than it can gracefully handle. Though ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ has moments of delight and even profundity, and looks-PBS pretty, too often it stumbles”

A third review called “Goodbye Christopher Robin Is All About The Pain Of Growing Up” was written by Kyle Anderson:

So often in biopics, especially those about creators of beloved works, it’s easy to melodramatize events rather than play them more seriously. I certainly knew very little about Milne apart from his creation of Winnie the Pooh, and the movie didn’t give me any kind of rosy picture of him. In fact, though director Simon Curtis’ Goodbye Christopher Robin sets out to recall the innocence of a child creating stories about his toys with his father, it doesn’t shy away from the reality that his parents may have been cold and unfeeling people.

Domhnall Gleeson does a masterful job as A.A. Milne, a comedy playwright and author who returns home from World War I with heavy bouts of PTSD and a refusal to return back to “normal life.” This point of view is at odds with that of his wife Daphne (Margot Robbie), a high-society figure who thinks her husband (whom she and most people call Blue) is just being difficult.

The pair move to the country with their son Christopher Robin, though whom they exclusively call Billy Moon, and his beloved nanny Olive (Kelly Macdonald) so that Milne can set to work on the anti-war novel he thinks he’s duty-bound to write. While Milne is engrossed in his book—and perhaps due to the custom of the 1920s, I suppose—the parenting of Christopher Robin, a major theme of the film, falls almost entirely on Olive. As such, Milne comes across as aloof for a good portion of the film, and Daphne seems to have no time for any of it, going back to London for long stretches until her husband writes something they can sell.

The movie captures the magic of Christopher Robin and Pooh and for those moments, I truly suggest you go see this movie. You can watch a trailer here.


What movies have you liked and can you recommend?

Things Your Daughter Will Be Surprised to Learn about High School and College Sports

Your kids may be surprised that many women did not have the opportunity to compete in college sports before Title IX.


My daughter diving in a competition with her club team at the East LA City College pool. My daughter diving in a competition with her club team at the East LA City College pool.

I Am Woman Hear Me Roar or You’ve Come a Long Way Baby, Part II

Isn’t it strange that women swimmers a few decades ago ended their swim careers in their teens, while it’s not uncommon to have women compete in their 20s and 30s today?

I was talking to Bonnie Adair — a former swimmer who held 35 National Age Group records during her career — including the 50-meter free for 8-and-unders that stood for 29 years. She quit swimming at age 19. Contrast that to say Olympian gold medalists Dara Torres, who swam in her fifth Olympics at age 41, Natalie Coughlin, still competing at 32, or Janet Evans who swam in the 2012 Olympic Trials at age 40.

Dara Torres Dara Torres


Janet Evans Janet Evans

What has changed so much in swimming since the…

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