Here are some bird photos from my Bird Buddy Gallery. The Bird Buddy is an AI bird feeder that my son was involved with bringing to market.
The first three photos are Gila Woodpeckers.
The Bird Buddy arrived last week and I’ve been having a blast with it. I am learning about the species of birds who hang out in our backyard. The app on my phone IDs the birds, gives me information about them and has recordings of the their songs and calls.
I decided not to cook this Thanksgiving, but we will go out for a simple meal. We’ve hosted Thanksgiving for most of the past 30 years and I don’t feel like doing the shopping, the prep, the cooking, inviting guests and cleaning up.
So instead of turkey, I’m sharing my Thanksgiving birds in my yard with my fellow bloggers and friends.
Happy Thanksgiving! What are your plans for Thanksgiving?
We picked up my dad at the airport on Wednesday. Thursday I cooked all day and we had friends over for Thanksgiving dinner who moved from our old home town to one mile from us. It was a fun evening of friendship and family.
Then the text came in at 2 a.m.
We’ve been worried about our friend Mark. He lives down the road from us and got a cold that turned into pneumonia earlier this month. He couldn’t breathe and was coughing so hard that he went to the hospital two weeks ago. This past week the doctor put him on a ventilator and induced a coma. He tested negative for COVID.
Everyday we waited for news from his son who came down from Seattle. Every day the news wasn’t good.
Mark left us Thanksgiving night at 2 a.m.
My husband said, “What do we do now?”
He talked to Mark every single day until Mark was on the ventilator. I don’t think we’d be living in Arizona if it hadn’t been for Mark. We visited him in Arizona after he moved here from Seattle several years ago. Mark introduced me to my husband 37 years ago. Mark introduced us to our realtor and he went house hunting with us on the day we found our new home. He introduced us to other friends who are moving to Arizona from Seattle. They will stay with us for Mark’s service this week.
The last time we saw Mark was a few weeks ago before he was in the hospital. He seemed healthy. We invited him over for dinner and ping pong. I cooked one of the best meals of my life.
Now he’s gone. I feel raw and fragile. We pushed through the weekend, trying to carry on. We had to entertain my dad. Saturday we went to the ASU UA football game with a group of friends from my kids’ Palm Springs swim team — their former teammates and parents. It was a good distraction for a bit.
But now what?
I can’t express how much we miss Mark. How hard it is when someone dies unexpectedly who is one of your close friends. It’s surreal how they’re a big part of your life one day and then leave a gaping hole when they’re gone.
I wrote this post about my Thanksgiving several years ago without our kids. Unfortunately, we hardly ever see the children on Thanksgiving anymore. But we do have plans to be together for a week over Christmas. Here’s what I wrote on my first kidless Thanksgiving:
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 the husband through work) and we spent Thanksgiving weekend sailing with them in Santa Barbara.
Here’s to friends and family and creating memories together.
Who are you sharing your Thanksgiving with? What traditions do you share with friends and family?
I wrote this five years ago, when both my kids came home for Thanksgiving weekend from college. I look back on this Thanksgiving fondly because it’s rare we get to spend the holiday together. Some years, my son stays up north near his girlfriend’s family. Then my daughter couldn’t leave due to her college team’s swim practice schedule.
This year, nobody is coming home. It’s partly due to COVID-19 and a new lockdown in effect. (Honestly, I didn’t think we ever got out of shelter in place, but people seemed less vigilant about following the rules.) This will be our last Thanksgiving in our home we’ve lived in for 28 years. So sad that we will be here all alone. I’m not going to cook for the two of us. My dad turns 89 in January and we decided it was best to skip a get together. It’s going to be a take-out dinner and maybe I’ll shed a few tears alone.
Here’s a look back at Thanksgiving 2015.
It’s Sunday after Thanksgiving and I was so thankful to have my family together. My two college kids came home to be with us! I cleaned and shopped all week, preparing for the big event.
Now, they’re gone.
Some of my favorite parts of the weekend:
The four of us walked down Palm Canyon Drive on Thanksgiving afternoon, before we ate my home-cooked meal. I loved that. The kids were happy, we window shopped, laughed and talked. There were the traditional piggy back rides and racing around.
Piggyback rides downtown.
Then came dinner and my dad joined us. He’s close to 84 and I’m thankful he’s close by and can share time with us.
I was getting tired after being on my feet for the past few days. I couldn’t help but look with jealousy at the weekenders coming in and picking up their mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing off a fully stocked shelf at a local grocery store, Jensen’s. Too easy, but seriously? Would anyone care?
Some good moments we had were swimming at our team’s Friday morning practice–kind of together. Although the masters were separated from the kids, it was a shared experience. I had a first! I managed to push myself out of the pool without swimming to the stairs. Having to swim past my daughter and her friends’ lane, who were also home from college, would have been too embarrassing. So I did it!
Feeling slightly short next to my daughter.
My son and I shared music. He’d play a song and then I’d give him a name of one to play. We went back forth while we drove to Palm Desert and back. He loves folk from the 60s and 70s. He listens to Joni Mitchell and some artists I’ve never heard of, but I enjoyed. I suggested “A Song for Juli,” by Jesse Colin Young and Nicolette Larson’s “Lotta Love,” plus a few more. We appreciate each other’s taste in music. He also shared a novella by Edan Lupucki that was a gem.
We went healthy food shopping and he taught my husband and I how to make chia pudding. Hmm.
My daughter and I had a delicious breakfast out together followed by a pedicure. Wonderful time together to talk and be mother and daughter like we used to be.
The four of us took the neighbor’s dog to the park and tossed the ball while my son jogged around us. It felt so good to play in the park where we spent so much of their younger days.
But, now they’re gone and here I am once again–alone at my computer. I do enjoy the freedom to write and finish some projects. I love my kids and I’m blessed that they want to come home and we spend time being together.
I said I wasn’t going to cry this time when they left. In fact, I was surprised at how strong I was. Until the door closed behind them.
I received an amazing email from one of our former Piranha head coaches, Tim Hill, who is now coaching in Texas. He has some great words of wisdom that in our heated political elections, I think are important for all of us to read–regardless which “team” you’re rooting or fighting for. He’ll be sharing his thoughts–and a SwimSwam article of mine–with his team. I think his thoughts about gratitude and our common goals are worth posting for more people to read, too. (FYI, I wrote this post November 2018. Nothing has changed. Let’s make it change.)
I’m grateful to swim in a beautiful pool with my team.
Family & Friends,
Last night I stayed awake (probably because I hadn’t worked out physically in three to four days, which is never good for me) thinking about all that is going on in our world/country, and my daily environment of working with a great cross-section of people, and most importantly our young people. Coming back from a 2.5 hour Senior meet where each of the swimmers did something well, I realized it wasn’t perfect, but I saw progress of young people engaged and challenging themselves. (I went with a small group of five before our hosted Shark meet of 600 swimmers & many parents/volunteers.) I walked away feeling good and that we’re all making progress in our daily lives of living and getting better.
Then after a conversation with some neighbor friends on values and our political system struggles, I read this short piece below from a former swim parent/board person that got me thinking along with watching a Train Ugly video on how our brains can change and how we can continue to learn to have a “Growth Mindset” (I’ll post more next week about it). So, I want to share some thoughts, which are at times difficult for me to put in writing, but I thought it can‘t hurt. Then read “5 Ways Parents (people) Can Handle Conflicts” and see how it might fit into our daily living exchanges.
Here are my thoughts:
Think how grateful we can be every day for so much good in our lives. We are truly blessed with so much that’s good that comes our way.
First, I’m grateful for many things in my lifetime journey so far, most importantly my lovely partner for 41+ years, Shayla—whose strong faith and belief in all mankind being equal is so inspiring. Second, our families/siblings who bring so much laughter, love and joy to our lives, even when we don’t always agree on some issues. Also, I’ve had the good fortune to travel the world in my coaching career, experiencing many different people/cultures, plus working/sharing with some great staff, parent groups and yes—young people of all ages. The one common theme is there are more caring, wonderful people in this world and a great deal of positive things going on that happen every day. Our constant news cycle doesn’t seem to cover that as much, but rather the power struggles that are front page news based on he/she said that it make it appear things are horrific (which as history has shown has always existed before our 24-hour news cycle brought it to the forefront daily.)
Yes, we all face different challenges, some that don’t work out the way we’d like or believe in. We have to decide how we’ll respond to these occurrences. As I like to share/believe – “Change is inevitable, growth is optional.” Keep in mind we all come on to this wonderful planet the same way and are made of basically the same substance. At the end of each day, can we realize that we have a lot in common, want peace, security and the love of our family and some friends while sharing our earth and it’s beautiful creatures and resources?
We are truly blessed with so much that good that comes our way and we should take a minute every day to say and share what are we grateful for.
5 Ways Parents (earthlings) Can Help Handle Conflicts Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham from SwimSwam
One thing I’ve learned through experience is that when there is an issue that involves our children—and I feel like they’ve been wronged—I need to take a deep breath. And, I let a few days pass. I ask how our kids can settle an issue themselves before getting involved. I’m not talking about something serious where they could be in danger, but other issues like being signed up for events they don’t like or not making it into a higher level group.
Here are five tips to use at the pool and in other areas of your life with coaches, teachers and other parents:
Listen to your kids but do some research. It is possible that there are two sides to the story. If you only listen to your child, you may not have the whole picture. Investigate and find out the other point of view. Then you’ll be in a better position to evaluate if you need to get involved. Often, our kids vent to us but may not want our help.
Take some deep breaths, let time go by and walk or exercise before making a phone call or writing that email. Sometimes things that seem so urgent at the moment won’t be so worrisome after a few days. In many cases, a new issue will take its place.
Don’t lose your temper or you’ve lost. Having an issue about our kids can turn a mild-mannered person into a mama or papa grizzly. Staying calm if you do get involved, will help you get the results you’re seeking.
Have a solution in mind. What is the outcome you want? I had a boss once say that anyone can point out problems—it’s the people with solutions who are rare. I learned from serving on our team’s board that people can complain a lot. After every decision our board made, we got complaints from someone. Sometimes, just listening made the person feel better because people like to be heard.
Understand that you can make the situation worse. This is a sad truth that with our best intentions, we can escalate a small incident into something bigger. Also, by problem solving for our children, we are taking away opportunities for them to learn and grow into independent adults.
What is your best advice for parents when kids are facing a problem?
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
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.
“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:
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.”
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.
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?