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?
Scenic walk from our airbnb to downtown Park City.
Salt Lake City has been in the spotlight because of the historic vice presidential debate last night. Salt Lake City is a vibrant, clean, friendly yet small city that I fell madly in love with while my daughter went to the University of Utah. During her four years as a student-athlete, we took many trips to watch her swim meets and enjoy the gorgeous sights in SLC and surrounding mountains resorts.
We were impressed by the community spirit of rooting for the Utes. Everywhere there are “Go Utes!” murals, flags and signs. The football stadium is always sold out–rain or shine. The gymnastics team is the most attended women’s sport in the country with more than 15,000 fans in the Huntsman Dome.
When my daughter graduated and moved out of Utah, I really felt sad. I thought we’d never visit Utah again without her there. But, instead we rented an airbnb in Park City the past two summers. I love it more than ever. It is such a healthy, beautiful place to be to beat the desert heat.
A friend asked my daughter and me to put together a list of things to do in SLC for her niece who’s a freshman at the University of Utah. Most of our things to do revolved around food. But, all in all it’s a list of our favorite memories during four years of being Ute fans. Here’s our Salt Lake City guide for UTE students, parents and visitors:
A view of the Grand America from the pool deck of the Little America Hotel.
The Grand America Hotel — nicest in SLC, fun to walk through, even if you don’t stay there. I never made it to Sunday Brunch, but it’s supposed to be amazing.
The Little America — same company, Sun Valley Company, owns both the Little and Grand America hotels. It’s very nice but a little more low key than the Grand America. Restaurants are great, try the Coffee Shop for comfort food and amazing hot rolls with butter. I loved the gym and pool and big rooms at a great price. Our home away from home in Salt Lake City.
A sandwich and salad at Les Madeleines.
Valter’s Osteria — fine Italian, special occasion, delicious and great atmosphere. The owner Valter is so personable!
Market Street Grill — Pacific Northwest seafood flown in daily. Great for big parties or family lunch and dinner.
Takashi My favorite sushi restaurant. They have an excellent menu with many hot dishes, too.
Sapa My daughter’s favorite sushi restaurant. I think she and her friends liked the “all you can eat” special. Plus it was exciting because you aren’t allowed in unless you’re with someone 21 years old or older.
Les Madeleines — small Parisian bakery/cafe for breakfast and lunch. I love the tomato basil soup with salad!
Freshies Lobster Co. — Park City must! Casual restaurant that started as a food truck serving lobster rolls and lobster salad, amazing! The best meal I ever had in Utah! So simple but delicious. Here’s a review by the Salt Lake Tribune which says they opened a Salt Lake City restaurant blocks away from my daughter’s former house!
Amazing lobster roll at Freshies in Park City.
Italian — Antica Sicilia and Doce Sicilia. Recommended by Matteo Songe, a teammate of my daughter’s from Italy. He said this was authentic Sicilian. The Carbonara pasta is prepared with flames in a cheese wheel table side!
Aristo’s — family-operated Greek. Delicious. Outdoor seating on the patio in the summer.
Sports at UTAH — go to football, gymnastics, basketball, swimming, etc. The crowds at football and student MUSS section are so enthusiastic. Red Rocks Gymnastics is a top five NCAA team consistently and they have 15,000 plus in attendance — the most attended Olympic sport for collegiate women in the U.S.
Church — CenterPoint in Orem. Pastor Scott McKinney. Scott and my husband were best friends from grade school through high school. It was so nice to reconnect with Scott and his wife Sara. They provided our daughter with a home away from home.
Downtown Salt Lake City, UT
Where your favorite places to visit and do you have any recommendations?
The fight song at the end of one of my daughter’s college dual meets. Go UTES!
“Lessons learned from 27 years of youth sports parenting” by Seattle Times columnist Larry Stone hit a spot in my soul. He shared many of the highlights of his years of sports parenting with his children. Like he said in his column, they had no idea how youth sports would take over their families lives when they first began the ride. We too tried a variety of sports and then settled on swimming for both our children. Before we knew it, we were all hooked, and swimming filled up our lives.
A few days before the first swim meet ever, we received a call from the president of our team’s board. He said we needed to sign up to help during the meet. They needed timers or help in the snack bar. What? We were shocked. Then, he said that afterward, the entire team stayed to tear down the meet.
I said, “We have family visiting from Seattle.”
He said, “They’re welcome to help, too.”
The phone calls persisted and finally, my husband said, “I’m sorry but we have a life!”
Roll forward a few years and I was serving on the board, writing press releases, creating fliers to promote the team and writing the team newsletter. My husband became meet manager and had to call parents to help at meets, before he took on the role of president of the board. Add our volunteering to the fact that we were taking our kids to the pool six days a week, plus meets, 50 weeks a year–and yes sports parenting took over our lives for a few years.
Here’s part of the great column by Larry Stone that got me a little teary eyed. Especially since my last official year as a swim mom ended this year:
Take it from Larry Stone, who has learned a few lessons over 27 years of youth sports parenting: There are a few tricky or annoying aspects of your offspring’s sports participation, but mostly, you’re going to want to savor it before it goes by in an instant.
It was way back in 1991 when my oldest daughter, Jessica, signed up for a 6-and-under Bobby Sox softball team in Oakland, Calif., where we were living at the time.
It was a delightful season of fun, growth and bonding, though it soon became apparent that Jess was not destined to be a slugger like Dave Henderson of her beloved A’s. To be fair, she did hit a grand slam (of the Little League variety) in her final at-bat, as Jessica, now 32 and married, reminded me on Tuesday.
I didn’t realize at the time that our family was stepping timidly into a world that would at times dominate our lives, and certainly became a focal point of family logistics for more than a quarter century.
Naturally, I’ve been reflecting about the good times and the bad as a youth-sports parent (and fortunately, we had far more of the former). I thought I’d present some of the lessons I’ve learned over the years – some of them the hard way.
• A few of the coaches you’ll encounter will be ego-driven tyrants who think they’re the next Belichick or Auriemma as they micro-manage pre-teens. Far more will be kind, supportive and motivated by the simple desire to make your child a better player without bruising his or her psyche in the process.
• Throw the words “select,” “premier” or “elite” in front of a sports program, and there’s no end to the amount of effort (and money) we parents will put forth to get our kid into it.
• There’s a dire need to make youth athletics less about select, premier and elite, and more about fun, participation and recreation.
• If your overriding goal for youth sports is a Division I scholarship, you need to rethink your priorities. First of all, it’s probably not going to happen – that’s just the stark reality. Second of all, you’re likely to spend so much money in that pursuit that it negates the value of what in most cases would be a partial scholarship anyway. And third of all, if your kid has the talent, it will emerge clearly and emphatically on its own. In other words, pay for the camps, clinics, showcases and recruiting videos if you’d like, but be aware that the payoff is not likely to be what you think.
• Burnout is the scourge of youth sports, and specialization is the single biggest source of burnout. Particularly at the younger levels, diversify, don’t specialize!
• Overwrought and demanding parents are now, were then, and will continue to be the bane of youth sports, perpetually pushing the line between concerned involvement and crazed entitlement.
• Some of the best friends and people I’ve ever met are youth-sports parents who set the finest examples of how to positively support, encourage and nurture your child’s athletic career. And some of the best parenting advice, perspective and support I ever got came from people I sat with in the bleachers — the ones with older kids who had been here and done this, and the ones struggling through the same developmental hiccups that were keeping me up at night.
There’s more to the article and I suggest you read every bit of it. I agree with Stone that some of my best friends I met on our team and from other teams throughout Southern California. Our friendships have lasted through the years. I got great advice from parents of older kids, and commiserated with the ones with kids the same ages as mine. Of course, there were those crazy parents who caused so much stress—but they were few and far between. And we had our own crazy moments ourselves but learned from our mistakes.
I learned more about parenting on deck that went far beyond the pool—like which teachers were the best, about SAT testing, college recruiting and more. In return, I’ve talked with parents with younger kids and hope I can be as helpful as those who helped me.
The team cheer during the age group years.
If your sports parenting days are over, what do you miss about it? What are your favorite things about being involved in youth sports?
Four years ago today, I posted this story after attending college orientation with my youngest. I can’t get my mind around how fast and fun these college years have been with both my kids. There’s so much I would do over if there were things called “do-overs.” I learned so much from the experience and want to share five things I wish someone would have told me before they left home.
This week I made the trek to the University of Utah to attend orientation with my daughter, who is an incoming freshman. Class of 2018 — does that sound scary or what?
I spent two days in the pristine mountainside beauty of Salt Lake City with clear blue skies and intense sunshine. Parents attended most meetings without their kids, who were similarly engaged with topics angled for teenage consumption.
Having been to college orientation three years prior with my firstborn, I didn’t think I’d learn anything new. However, in “Supporting your College Student” presented by Dr. Kari Ellingson, Associate Vice President, Student Development, I wished I’d heard her advice before I sent my first child to college.
She answered, “No, I’m sure she’s talking about my oldest daughter!”
What did Dr. Ellingson have to say that we wished we heard the first time around?First…
Children go through changes. But, if it’s your first child going to college, or your last, you will be going through changes, too. We are in the process of changing our relationship from parent to child to adult to adult. We go through transitions, pushing them away and holding them close.
A student who works 10 to 15 hours on campus will do better in school than someone who works off campus or doesn’t work at all. Students working on campus are making connections with the campus, student, and staff. They are completing their identity as a student first.
Students born from 1980 to 2000 are known as millennials. They don’t like to suffer — they love nice things — and they don’t mind working for them. Unfortunately, this can interfere with their education. So, if they want spending money, suggest a job on campus.
Cell phones according to Dr. Ellingson, are “the world’s longest umbilical cords.” Some students call home 5, 6, 7 times a day. In our day, we waited in line for the phone down the hall on Sundays — when long distance was cheaper — and horror of all horrors — there wasn’t such a thing as a cell phone!
Don’t let your child’s crisis become your crisis. Let them problem solve. Ellingson’s example was a daughter who called her mom and said, “I flunked my midterm. The professor hates me…” After consoling her crying daughter, the mother called back later with more advice. The daughter was like, “Huh? What are you talking about? Everything’s fine.”
They are learning to become themselves. Making new friends. They will be grieving and letting go of high school friendships but will build new and deeper ones. A main developmental issue is finding their identity. Their core stays the same, which has been developing over the past 18 years. But, how they express themselves changes.
They may try on new identities by copying new friends to see how it fits or feels. You may say to yourself, and hopefully not to your child, “Who the hell is this?” Then you meet their new friend, and say to yourself, “Oh, now I see who this is!”
Intellectually they are still developing. They see things differently than before. They love to debate. They will try out their debating skills, or how to express themselves by choosing opinions contrary to yours, even if it isn’t what they truly believe.
Dr. Ellingson talked about independence: “Their first steps as a toddler are towards you. Every step after that is running away from you.”
They need to discover how to be on their own — and this is one of their fears. Delayed maturation is common. It used to be people matured around 19, 20, 21. Today it’s 26, 27 or 28. They will say to you “Leave me alone!” Then, “bail me out!” This is normal. The pendulum will swing back and forth.
Just remember to love them, guide them, but let them figure it out. The more we solve their problems, the more we delay their growth into independent, responsible adults.