Traveling the world — or not?

Beach house near Santa Barbara
We’ll be returning to this beach cottage for the sixth time this summer.

When you go on vacation, do you like to return to the same place — or do you like to explore new areas?

I read a Wall Street Journal story called: “The Joy of Traveling to the Same Places Again and Again.” It’s written by novelist Tara Isabella Burton who wanted to travel everywhere when she was in her 20s. Now, that she’s older and married, she longs to go back to the cities and regions she loves deeply.

WHEN I WAS young I wanted to go everywhere. I had notebooks’ worth of lists: half-imagined, half-researched, of all the places I would fly off to without warning. It was easy for me to travel—I went to university in England during the golden age of budget European airlines. I could buy flights from London to Slovakia or Italy for under $10, or student-fare Eurostar tickets to Paris for $25. I would spend 4½ dreary and bleary-eyed hours on the bus from Oxford to London Stansted to catch a morning flight for a $50 weekend in Istanbul or Marrakech. I had a sense of myself as someone with wanderlust, an inchoate desire to be anywhere but where I was. Raised eclectically—I barely knew my Italian father; my American mother changed our home base with the school year—I gloried in the fact that I was never at home, anywhere. And so, there was nothing to keep me still.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-joy-of-traveling-to-the-same-places-again-and-again-11647345601?mod=life_work_featured_pos3

She goes on to say that she began to fall in love with certain areas and made friends. She’s pulled these days to traveling to those few locations.

I like to return to the same place for vacation. We spent two decades vacationing in Laguna Beach in the summer. Lately, it’s been the Santa Barbara area. We have friends there, restaurants and beaches we love. It’s like going to my happy place. We also like to visit Park City — another place with friends and natural beauty.

My memories as a child are vacationing at our cabin, Ocean Shores and Sun Valley, Idaho for skiing. We went to a few more places like the once in a lifetime big trip to Hawaii and the road trip to Disneyland. But for the most part, vacations were in the same few places and in the same hotels or condos.

I think there’s a certain comfort in returning to places we love. When traveling to somewhere new, I’m a little anxious, while returning to the places I love feels like going home.

What are your thoughts about traveling to new places, versus returning to places over and over again?

On the road again

beach view in Santa Barbara
On our way to the beach!

I need to get packed. But, I need to do laundry first. The kitty is on her way to boarding. The lady at the pet boarding place said our Olive the cat will be boarding with Olive the pug. That should be interesting. Olive our cat is not a pug fan. Waffles is the only pug she’s met and all he wants to do is chase her. I hope they don’t place them in suites (cages) that face eachother.

One thing that definitely helped my stress level was packing and loading the car one day before. What a concept! We only need to wake up, shower and go.

A nine-hour drive awaits. I’m trying to have a positive outlook for the long drive. I’ve downloaded several books to listen to including John Grisham. I tend to have anxiety on the road, so I’m trying to frame the trip as an adventure. As something fun to do for nine hours — rather than dreading it. Maybe a positive outlook will change my reaction?

Instead of breaking up the drive into a couple days, we’re going for it. We’ll stop by my dad’s to drop off his Christmas present at the halfway point. But we’re not spending the night. We want to get to our destination.

The Airbnb is letting us check in four hours early, which I’m thankful for. One of my worries was that the owner hadn’t reached out to me yet. Now she has and we have all the details to get into our Christmas vacation house.

What excitement do you have planned for Christmas week?

Skimming and soaring on the waves

What do you call it when birds fly down low and seem to draft off the ocean waves like these pelicans? Skimming and soaring.

Soaring and skimming pelicans I spotted on my morning walk.

Here’s what I found out from a search online. Stanford University had this post:

Skimming: Why Birds Fly Low Over Water

A flock of sea ducks, pelicans, or sandpipers skimming low over the water’s surface is a common seashore sight. Far from shore, shearwaters often closely follow the contours of the waves, and gaggles of auklets fly rapidly just above the water. Skimming permits the birds to take advantage of an aerodynamic phenomenon known as “ground effect.” The patterns of airflow around a wing that is operating close to a surface are modified by that surface in a manner that reduces drag, the resistance of the air to the progress of the wing. Sometimes overloaded airplanes are sometimes incapable of climbing out of the ground effect even though they can maintain flight close to the ground.

Thus, everything else being equal, it is more efficient to fly close to a surface than far from it. But things are rarely equal, which is why birds most often tend to take advantage of the ground effect when the “ground” is water. The ground effect only occurs when the flying object is much less than a wingspan from the surface — and at such an altitude over land a bird would be continually flying among obstacles, through grass, and so on. Only water is sufficiently uncluttered to permit such close safe passage.

Skimming: Why Birds Fly Low Over Water

Are your kids ready for #adulting?

 

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Where we went with our kids for summer vacations.

One of the side effects of doing everything for our kids is they won’t know how to do anything on their own. We’re setting them up for a big fail if we send them to college without basic life skills. In addition to the amazing grades, high SATs and sports achievements, they need to learn how to take care of their health, money, car and clothes.

I remember when I was 16, I took one of my best friends on a family vacation on our boat in British Columbia. One day we docked in Campbell River B.C. and my mom and dad divided up the chores we needed to get done while we were ashore. My dad went to the Marine supply store, mom to groceries, I went for bait and fishing gear. My friend was sent to the laundromat. A little while later, my parents met up at the laundromat and were shocked my friend had no idea how to do laundry!

I had done laundry since I was a little kid. My mom went back to college while I was in first and second grades. My brother and I were latchkey kids and we walked home from school to a daily list of chores. How we hated mom’s slanted handwriting that filled an entire sheet of yellow legal-sized paper. I understand now that she was keeping us busy and out of trouble by giving us a list of chores that we would never ever be able to finish. Either that or she was a slave driver. I prefer to think it was the former.

In any case at the age of seven, I could bake cakes, vacuum the house, sort laundry, weed the garden, mow the lawn, make my own lunch and do the dishes. I wonder how many high school seniors today do those chores? I know my kids could—but not often. I didn’t make them. It was easier for me to do it myself. My daughter came up with the best excuse ever–a unique mystery illness. While we were on summer vacations at the beach, we’d rent a cottage that didn’t have a dishwasher. She literally would break out in a rash on her legs and arms when it was her turn to do the dishes! Maybe it was an allergy to the latex gloves, but it looked awful enough for her to get out of washing dishes. Then, how could I make my son do them if she didn’t?

 

 

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Angus wasn’t allowed inside the beach cottage, but he sure wanted to be.

 

In the Montgomery Advertiser, Jenni Stahlmann and Jody Hagaman wrote “Parenting: Adulting goals for teens.” They have a one-hour syndicated talk radio show and give parenting advice. In their article, they list a bunch of things that our kids need to learn—before they leave for high school. I’ve also written about what our kids need to learn before they leave home for SwimSwam and here.

Here’s an excerpt from the “Adulting goals for teens article:”

Do our kids understand the basic principles of healthy eating? Do they know the difference between fats, carbohydrates and proteins, and do they know which foods are the best sources for each? Do they know that they need omega 3 fatty acids but should avoid trans fats? Are they familiar with which foods contain each?

Can they cook? Do they know the difference between a paring knife and a chef’s knife and why they would need to use one or the other? Do they know how to carve a bird or thicken a sauce or caramelize onions?

Can our teens self diagnose common illnesses? Do they know the difference between flu symptoms and the common cold, and can they treat either one with over the counter medicines or natural remedies? Do they know basic first aid and have they taken a CPR class?

Do our high schoolers know the difference between municipal, state and federal agencies? Do they know who to call if a stop sign is knocked down or what steps to take if they have a fender bender?

Can they change a tire, replace their windshield wipers and check their oil? Do they understand the difference between liability insurance and collision coverage?

The questions could go on and on, and of course, there’s no way to prepare our kids for every situation they could possibly encounter, but if we set a goal to help our teens learn the basics of adulting, we can be pretty confident that by the time they venture out on their own, they will know enough to do well and be able to find the answers when they are unsure.

 

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The cottage we rented every summer for years.

How prepared are your kids for living away from home? Did you have more life skills then your children at the same age?

 

Are Children Living Life Through a Lens?

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Experiencing the beach.

My daughter and I walked into an elevator yesterday at Nordstrom’s with a mom pushing a Thule baby stroller, snapping pics of her infant and tapping away on her phone to post the pics. My daughter whispered to me, “Thank God they didn’t have iPhones when I was a kid!”

I told her I was thankful that their early childhood was before the era of smartphones, too.

Later, I asked her why she was glad we didn’t have iPhones. Her answer surprised me. “Because you would have been taking photos constantly and posting every moment of my life on FaceBook,” she said.

Psychologists warn about kids spending too much time in front of screens and not enough of their time outdoors in an article in the DailyMail.com called “Why children should not be selfie stars:”

In advice to parents, Dr. Godsi said: ‘Leave technology at home. When you go out as a family leave mobile devices switched off and have a rule that says no mobile phones during family meal times.’

The author added: ‘In my opinion selfies should not be encouraged.

‘I think there is a place for taking a few photos, as a way to help families remember or look back and to share memories but the constant pressure to post on social media means there’s a risk that they (children) don’t experience anything except through a lens.’

My daughter said that once I got my first iPhone and was learning how to use it, “You relentlessly posted ugly, fat pictures of me on FaceBook.”

I view those photos not as ugly, but on a scale of cute to adorable to gorgeous.

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Learning about the ocean in Junior Lifeguards.

I explained that I was so glad she and her brother weren’t posing for pictures constantly, weren’t worried about what other kids were doing at the moment, but went outside to play. That’s why I’m glad the iPhone wasn’t a thing in their early years.

When we had kids over, they weren’t sitting side by side texting each other. No, they were running around the backyard and house playing a reverse hide-and-seek game called sardines—for hours on end.

When we were at the beach, they were jumping in the waves, body surfing, building drip castles, digging holes and yes—occasionally fighting and throwing sand. As annoying and painful as throwing sand was–especially dealing with sand in the eyes–it sure beats constantly posing for pictures.

My daughter says there is room for both. When she goes to the beach with friends, they now get a few pics, then toss the phones in a beach bag and dive under the waves.

Here are a few frightening stats from the article in the UK Mail:

Dr. Godsi spoke out after a survey of 2,000 parents by outdoor education provider, Kingswood, found that the biggest source of quality time among families is spent watching TV together. Sixty-eight percent cited this as their main activity shared with children, followed by going to the cinema (35 per cent) and playing computer games (24 per cent).

The average age of the parents’ children was ten, while 445 were seven.

Asked to look back to when all their youngsters were seven, 85 percent of families said their sons or daughters had never gone camping.

Sixty-five percent said they had never played pooh sticks or climbed a tree (51 percent).

Forty-one per cent admitted their children had never been on a bike ride, paddled in the sea (43 percent) or played in a park (31 percent).

It’s very easy to get sedentary. It’s also easy not to talk to each other when we’re buried and focused on our screens. I’m lucky to spend this week with my daughter just hanging out and being with eachother.

What are your thoughts about selfies, kids and family time? Do your kids spend enough time without their phones experiencing outdoors?

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On the lookout for dolphins and whales.

 

How Much Social Media Is Too Much For Our Teens?

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My daughter seeking a social media pic.

I’ve wondered for years how social media is affecting our teens, and I’m thankful we never had Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat when I was a kid. I’m also glad it wasn’t a “thing” when my kids were young. I remember MySpace was introduced when my kids were around middle school aged and a few kids in their Catholic school posted provocative pictures. It didn’t go over well, needless to say.

An article today in The Baltimore Sun by Andrea K. Mcdaniels called, “Parents’ concern: Is social media bad for teenagers?” has quite a few experts and studies weighing in. They’ve found good and bad outcomes, but it seems to me the bad ones outweigh the good.

So the list of problems with social media includes sleeping problems, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and suicide. Does anyone see a problem with this trend? I’ve written about my concerns about social media and how it affects on kids here.

Have you ever had a relaxing day at the beach and watched young teens posing for that perfect Instagram pic? It’s quite funny to watch from a distance. I mean who goes to the beach with perfect hair and makeup? Not me! I prefer a big hat, a ponytail and a good book, thank you very much.

 

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Mirage

Where I live, we have a phenomenon called Desert X, a series of outdoor art installations that appeared this Spring. One I call “The Selfie House” in reality is called “Mirage.” It’s a house installed with mirrors inside and out. It attracts young women dressed in bizarre outfits with friends with the sole purpose of getting a huge volume of social media clicks. The Los Angeles Times wrote about Mirage here.

 

Here’s a snippet from the article “Parents’ concern: Is social media bad for teenagers?”

“A study published earlier this year by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine with support from the National Institutes of Health found that the more time young adults spent on social media, the more likely they were to have problems sleeping and to experience symptoms of depression.

“Another study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that the incidence of major depressive incidents has increased dramatically among teens, particularly among girls, and that cyber-bullying may be playing a role.

“At American University, researchers found a link between social media use and negative body image, which can lead to eating disorders.”

 

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Mirage, the selfie house. designed for Desert X.

As parents, what can we do to keep tabs on how social media is affecting our kids?

 

ONE
Delay when your kids get smartphones.

TWO
Keep an eye on what they’re posting.

THREE
Talk to your kids about how social media is creating issues for many kids.

FOUR
Be involved in your kids’ lives and pick up on cues if things seem off. Maybe social media is behind it.

What suggestions do you have to keep our kids safe from the bad effects of too much social media?

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?