Tuesday, December 29, 2015


- I'm ready for Christmas to be over now, and I'm ready to start getting ready for the next thing. I'm feeling the itch to start organizing, cleaning, paring down... "taking stock" for a new year. I took a few days off next week, and I'm planning on trying to find a balance between getting things accomplished and resting (physically and mentally). Then I jump back into my regular schedule on all fronts again, which looks like it will continue to alternate between less busyish and just completely insane weeks. ;) I'll take it!

- So I took Abigail ice skating yesterday (Monday) and I have to admit that I wasn't sure if this was a good idea.  She's not always into new things, especially if they're things that she doesn't master right away, and we drove up in my truck and met everyone else because I honestly wasn't sure if she'd last very long. And after the first lap around the rink, she asked for a break, and I thought, oh, this is it. She's going to be done. So we sat on the bench and I casually mentioned how skating was a lot like swimming, it took a lot of new muscles and balance skills and took a bit of time to figure out - remember when you couldn't swim? Yup, lol, that seems funny now that you swim like a fish! - skating is like that. And after a minute she got back on the ice and we went around again. We stopped for breaks, sure (as much for me as for her - my wide barefoot loving feet cramp terribly in the narrow skates!) but after a minute or two she always wanted to go out again. By the end of the session she tried it on her own for about ten feet with me spotting her, and Maggie and I made a big fuss over how proud we were. :) And I was!

- ... You know what's coming, right? I miss "my" kids. I miss "my" coaches. Every time I've been stressed out in the last two weeks (which, you know, has kinda been often), I've itched to get back to "my" pool - my happy place. I'm anxious to get everything rolling again. I feel unmoored without my kids. :(
On the other hand - and this, this is HYSTERICAL - I've run into several swim team families since we've been on break (the lessons program, not the swim team) and every time - EVERY TIME! - they greet me, then get this incredibly guilty look on their face and mumble something along the lines of, "We haven't been to practice this week/we've been taking a break/there's so much to do during the holidays/etc." And I'm just like, dude, when did I become the principal? Lol. For one, I'm not part of the swim team staff (though probably,  since half the people on deck call me by my boss's name, they're confused about that, too), and I haven't been on deck since before Christmas,  so you're safe. And second - no, that's pretty much it. :) The best part of my job is being able to love on everybody while feeling absolutely no need to guilt them. ;)

- So I need to buy some dresses. I own two dresses, and one is scarcely more than a beach dress made just barely decent with a cardi and a scarf. And I have been everywhere looking, willing to spend money on them (after all, I only need a few good dresses to pull out for church and showers and weddings, and events of that kind), but I can't find anything I like. I can't remember ever having this much trouble when I was living with my parents and only allowed to wear dresses or skirts, so I'm thinking it's me that's changed? Which makes me wonder... is it that after three years of wearing jeans, dresses just feel strange? Or is it a deeper,  subconscious resistance to going back to that time of my life, where men/fundamentalist subculture/empty religious rules spent 90% of their energy telling me how to dress, what was permissible for me to do as a woman, and extolling the virtues of patriarchal submission? I honestly don't know, and I'm not sure how to deal. I love the look of a good dress, I love the way they look on other women,  I can remember dresses that have made me feel beautiful and empowered and happy. But I put them on and they feel wrong and I want them off. I fear the well has been poisoned for me. :(

- My mom got me an essential oils starter kit for Christmas after I (hesitantly) admitted that I wanted to learn to use them (I've resisted for a long time because it seemed like everyone who was into essential oils also felt that they were a "miracle cure" for everything, rendering modern medicine unnecessary, and I just don't buy that, but I've had good luck using some herbs and extracts in the last three years of health insurancelessness, and I would love to use them similarly - not in place of modern medicine, but as more of a wellness aid. Just had to throw that disclaimer out there!). I used the orange and lavender oils immediately on my new pillows and I've been enjoying them (although, ironically, I've been sleeping horribly ever since. Probably not related - I never sleep well during a full moon - but funny). I wore a little bit of peppermint oil one day when I was particularly exhausted (more on this later) and it also seemed to help. I'm really looking forward to buying a diffuser and using some lime oil, which is supposed to help with mental clarity - I can ALWAYS use more of that!

- And last but not least, I'm tired. I've shorted myself a little too much sleep for a little too long and now I'm just beat. At this point I'm sort of surviving from one nap to the next, bolstered in between by coffee and... no, pretty much just coffee. ;) Between the long weekend and my time off I have five days off in a row, and I still can only sleep in on one of those days. I'm thinking a lot of early nights are in order!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Best Kind Of Gift

You know those "this is it" moments, those times where you pause and realize that life is beautiful, those small things that make it "worth it"?

Yeah. Having one of those right now...

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Deflated Cheer


(Where do I even begin?)

I knew last week was going to be busy and I was braced for it. I did a good job of keeping a half step ahead of everything by never stopping to think - just go! do! accomplish!  - and I kept my eye firmly fixed on what, in my mind,  was the magical turnover point: Saturday. On Friday night, when I got off work, I would officially be down to one job only for the next two weeks, I had tickets to go see A Christmas Carol with family and friends on Saturday, and I relished the thought of a slower, restful, soul - reviving pace for the holiday. Hot tea. Sitting by the lighted tree. Luxurious afternoon naps followed by late nights wrapping presents. Playing card games with my family. Watching holiday movies with Maggie or my dad. Time to reflect and make plans and anticipate the coming year.

It's kind of symbolically appropriate, then, that we left the theater in the intermission of "A Christmas Carol" to rush to the hospital where Liz was transferred to the ICU.

In the end, it could be much worse.  A life - changing diagnosis, yes, but one that will be manageable once she's stablized. Still, the stress levels around here are running high, and my Christmas spirit is a bit deflated. I'm tired. :( Not feeling the happy, not feeling the cheer, but I am feeling grateful, and I'm hoping that will be (as it so often is) a back door into joy.

In rhe meantime, things I'm resting on:

- MB and I were working in the kitchen last week, chatting while the kids napped, and I made an offhand comment about the year before I came to work for them being a long, and often hard, one. She then told me, "We definitely needed you in our lives. I like to think you needed us, too." I probably did not respond to this as well as I should have because I was so touched, but it's a moment I've held close ever since. I totally needed them, no doubt about it. I am incredibly honored that they need me, too.

- Swim boss sent me a video of his daughter eating macaroons I sent home with him for Christmas,  she is just about the most adorable tot ever, and pretty much every time I've felt defeated since then I've pulled it up to rewatch. And it always makes me laugh. :) I have awesome bosses.

- Cris, who was with me in the theater when we got the news and who is always my "got your back, show up when the going gets rough" person in a crisis, sent Maggie and me a video this morning of baby bunnies in cups. Seriously. It's the most ridiculous thing (I was initially puzzled - kept asking Maggie, "Why are there baby bunnies in cups? !") but also so cute and slightly hysterical (especially if you were up late at the hospital and are running low on sleep and high on stress). See? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hh9lWK-iwc&sns=em

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Notes On Teaching Literature

Once upon a time, I taught a literature/writing class once a week through a homeschool co-op. I loved it, discovered my love of teaching there, and got very positive feedback (from both parents and students)(although now that I think about it,  parents stressed me out then, too!). I taught for two years (or was it three?) and only stopped when the co-op shut down. It was invaluable in terms of the experience ggained and the lessons learned, far from least of which was the concept of breaking big skills into smaller "bites." I look back at my lesson plans, the teaching materials I designed (I was on a shoestring budget so everything - handouts, tests and quizzes, assignments, etc - I created myself), and I'm still pleased with it.

But that was over five years ago,  and I'd forgotten certain things.  For instance,  how much work is involved. ;)

I've been teaching Ruth and Dari writing and literature this whole semester, and it's been challenging in ways I didn't expect. It's been a little harder to motivate them than I thought it would be. But we are finally,  blessedly down to our last two weeks of class before Christmas break,  and we're finishing up with one of my favorite pieces of lit: A Christmas Carol.

Some brief notes on what we're doing (since we've strayed very far from the syllabus at this point and I want to remember what we did):

- I typed up a short, 2 - page handout on the life of Dickens and the reception of ACC and surprisingly,  this was one of the parts of the lesson the girls liked the best! They liked that Dickens tried to affect change through his writing, and that his works were focused on working people. They LOVE reading descriptions of him reading ACC out loud, which segued nicely into our first "exploration" of the text, which was. ..

- ...Reading the first chapter (well, most of it anyway!) out loud. I expected this to be met with groans of misery, but it was met with enthusiasm, and they got more into it the more we read. We started off alternating paragraphs, then when we reached dialogue we assigned characters and a narrator. Inspired by the aforementioned descriptions of Dickens readings, we all read with as much feeling and acting as possible. We read very informally, stopping to discuss unfamiliar words or phrases as they came up, or act out parts they didn't understand.

- The writing journal assignment for this segment is pretty simple: I generated a lot of blank cluster diagrams and the girls are required to "analyze" each character using specific examples from the text to back up their claims (for instance, one of their characterizations of Scrooge could be "miserly," and the evidence for this would be that he saw Marley's death as "a bargain," only let Bob Cratchett have a single coal, and liked the dark because it was cheap). They have to re-analyze Scrooge every chapter, plus two other characters in the book.

- We'll spend two weeks discussing ACC, culminating in a trip to a nearby theater to see it performed on stage, and our final assignment will be their choice: either an essay tracing Scrooge's transformation (using their journal entries) or a reflection essay exploring the differences between the book and the staged performance. Then we're done for the semester!  :)

On the agenda for next semester: I know we're doing Animal Farm, and beyond that my plans are fluid (meaning,  I need to figure them out! ;)).

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Loving Lately

- Getting a chance to teach my friend Cris how to swim (she's going to be good!).

- Starbucks Holiday Spice Flat White (oh my gosh. So amazing)

- The way the triplets have wholeheartedly and exuberantly embraced Christmas and get so excited whenever we do or see anything Christmas-related.

- Lucy's recent obsession with a capella groups (we're playing a whole lot of Straight No Chaser,  Pentatonix,  and GLAD).

- The way that all three kids sat spellbound through the entire Hallelujah Chorus last night when I played it for them for the first time.

- Impromptu Dr Who watching parties where everyone shows up in holiday pajamas and much popcorn is consumed (and spilled!).

- Driving home from work late at night and seeing all the holiday lights.

- Celebrating one of my coach's birthdays this week with treats that turned out pinterest-worthy.

- Getting to do a lot of hands - on coaching this week (always makes me happy!).

- Making plans for the new year, and all the exciting things it will hold. :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Holiday Bucket List 2015

I've never posted a holiday bucket list so late, but the truth is I've been so busy actually doing bucket-list-worthy things that I haven't had a moment to post! :) Obviously, since we're only a few weeks away from Christmas Day (eep!), a lot of these I've already completed. Enjoy!
1. Drink a Holiday Spice flat white
2. Listen to the all-Christmas music station on the radio
3. Drive around to see Christmas lights
4. Take a nap and stay up late wrapping presents
5. Meet a friend for pie
6. Go on a shopping trip just to buy Christmas cards
7. Bake cookies for my coaches
8. Take a holiday picture
9. Read the Christmas story
10. Read A Christmas Carol (and go see it on stage!)
11. Send Advent gifts in the mail to Khy
12. Watch holiday movies
13. Be kind
14. Go see the new Star Wars movie
15. Burn holiday candles
16. Give thanks
17. Put up the tree and decorate the trailer
18. Watch "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" with the triplets
19. Write thank-you cards for the team
20. Make a Christmas craft with the triplets
21. Take Abby on a donuts-and-hot-chocolate date

Friday, November 27, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Things I'm thankful for (oh, so profoundly grateful):

- My jobs. All of them. And the fact that even when I'm slightly overwhelmed and a bit overbooked, I still wake up looking forward to going to work. And also that I am privileged to work for kind, amazing people. I could not have picked better bosses if I'd tried.

- My home. Tiny and perfect and mine. It's taught me so much about contentment,  and about how little you actually need to live well (and how even less you need to be happy).

- I'm so, so, so grateful for the kids in my life, the ones I nanny and the ones I teach and the ones I borrow. When I asked God several years ago to give me lots of children in my life, I had no idea how richly He would bless that request.

- I'm incredibly grateful that five years ago, somebody gave me back the ability to choose to be happy. Unless you've suffered from real, physical depression, it's hard to explain the way this disease impacts your life on virtually every level. I'm so, so lucky to be living in an age where modern medicine not only had the tools to end (for me) a struggle that had lasted over half my life, but offered them to me without judgment or misconceptions. When somebody gives you your life back, there isn't a day that you don't wake up and thank God for it.

- And that said... I'm grateful that we don't plan our own lives, that we are guided by a hand stronger than ours. I could never have planned this amazing, wonderful life, but I'm glad He did. :)

Friday, November 20, 2015


I didn't realize I'd signed on to work today (when MB asked me, I thought we were talking about next Monday), and I panicked just a little when I realized the error, because while it's a sunny day in the mid 50's right now, it's most likely going to dip into the 20's tonight, and I still haven't winterized the water line. I was planning on doing it next week, when I'll have some spare time thanks to Thanksgiving, but the cold beat me to it by a couple of days.

The first time I winterized the water lines after I moved into the trailer, it took me two days, an immense amount of tears (seriously, I sat on the floor with hoses and heat tape and insulation and just BAWLED) and I had to keep going back and forth to Lowes for a different this, more of that, an extra one of those. Last year (second time around!) it took me about four hours to get everything winterized.

Third time's the charm, because today I had everything switched out in just under an hour! :) While I'm not thrilled about the cold (who is?), at least now I'm ready to face it. I'm actually looking forward to the cold a little bit - laying in stores of hot apple cider, wearing cozy slippers and sweatshirts, and enjoying some pumpkin pie with family. I've been having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit this year; it's not that I'm anti-holiday, it just feels way, way too early to be thinking about Christmas. Which is odd, since I'm usually one of the first to fire up the carols and put out the holly LOL!

Some other things I'm loving lately:

- The triplets have been on a happy, well-behaved, affectionate kick. We still have our normal two-year-old issues, but the last few days have been remarkably pleasant. Nobody's quite sure what sparked it, but we're not jinxing it by asking! ;)

- My new phone. Galaxy S4. SO MUCH NICER than the old one I had. #thankful

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Everything's Going Swimmingly!

- I hate to say that there's nothing going on in my life right now, but really, there's nothing going on in my life right now. Except swim. I'm pretty much just loving through the everyday rhythm of life right now and loving it.

- Last Monday (the first day of our new session) I got an email from my boss saying my advanced coach - the one I've been shadowing whenever I have a chance, the one I've learned so much from, the one I bring my stupid questions to, the one who covers four of my six advanced classes each week and SIGNIFICANTLY reduces my stress level - was "out." Did I have a backup plan for the class?
I completely freaked out. What does "out" mean? Does "out" mean he quit? And if so... (cue instant panic attack)
(This was probably due in part to the fact that a few weeks ago we had a rough week and he looked a bit frustrated by the end of it, and one of the moms casually remarked, "Gosh, I hope he doesn't quit!" And even though I knew he wouldn't quit over one bad week, I would really, really hate to lose him.)
But as it turns out, "out" really meant "sick" so I calmed down. But really, though. NEVER DO THAT TO ME AGAIN.

- One of my coaches also didn't show up for their class on Wednesday and it was absolute chaos. I guess I should add that even in the midst of it, I dimly had the thought, "Huh, last year I xoukd have been absolutely hyperventilating by this point, so I think I'm getting better at this..." but still. Stressful. My coaches were troopers, though, and totally hung in there!

- Speaking of which... I have the best team this year. At the beginning of the season I dealt with some issues I had with one of my coaches, and while it was stressful and I still hate conflict and all that, the resulting peace means that everyone - everyone! - on the team is awesome to work with. There are no unmotivated people here. This is such a change from last year, and I can only imagine it probably won't happen again, so I'm relishing it while I can.

- I had a kid arrive for class last week, remember that she'd been promoted into the next station, and burst into tears. She was scared to go to her new class. I sat on the bleachers with her and we watched the new class for awhile, and after a bit she decided to give it a try, and ten minutes later when I walked the deck, she looked up at me beaming and exclaimed, "I LOVE station 4!" :) Made my heart happy. (The joy, not the crying lol)

- I had another kid show up who'd just had a flu shot. She was whining a bit about how she couldn't swim that day because her leg hurt, she'd just gotten the flu shot, etc, and she explained to me how the flu shot meant she now couldn't get the flu.
"So you're invincible now, like Superwoman," I told her. What did invincible mean, she wanted to know. I told her it meant that nothing could stop her (like the flu).
Her eyes got big. "I guess I AM like Superwoman!"
Her mom asked, "Are you going to do ten bobs today?"
(We've been trying to get her to do ten bobs forever.)
She looked at me. "Do you think Superwoman could do ten bobs?"
I assured her she could.
Ten minutes later the coach called me over and told me that she wanted to show me her ten bobs. She did them perfectly.
"That's awesome!" I told her. "I guess you really are like Superwoman today! Now you can work on floating!"
"Do you think Superwoman can float?"
(You'd better believe she can!)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Of Life Lately

- I'm getting REALLY excited about our trip to Floyd, VA next weekend. Our first trip was so much fun and way too short, and I'm looking forward to having more time and space this time. We're staying in a huge house we found on airbnb, and we each have our own bedroom, a huge kitchen, and 30+ acres of woods/trails to explore. I'm looking forwards to finding come new inspiration. (Not that I'm feeling uninspired, but I remember how energized I felt after our last trip.)

- Week 2 of our Whole30 is almost over. I've been eating lots of eggs (hardboiled, softboiled, over easy, scrambled, you name it), lots of fresh tomato sauce, tons of veggies. A lot of salmon. Not drinking enough water (need to work on that). Went to the grocery store hungry today and same home with "pepino melinos" (no clue), a dragonfruit, and a starfruit. also broccolini, watercress, and heirloom colorful tomatoes, which I must stop eating by the handful, or I won't have any left for the recipes I need them for this week!

- On the meal plan this week: chilled Asian shrimp salad, meatballs with paleo bbq sauce, baked chicken, steamed salmon, bolognese sauce, and a Mexican frittata. Still not sure whether I'll try to eat out in Floyd or pack meals, or both.

- I bought myself a new phone this afternoon! I'd been thinking I'd get a new one as a Christmas present to myself, and had decided to buy a Galaxy S3 (since that was the newest model within my price range). I casually went over to Walmart's website to see I'd their prices were comparable to my cell company, and they were having a sale on the S4, bringing it down to the same price as I'd been going to spend on the S3. I deliberated for a little bit, talk over specs with my dad, and decided it was too food a deal to pass up. :) It should hopefully arrive before our trip, and I can't wait to try it out!

- One of the things I'm most excited about is getting a waterproof case and being able to take it into the pool with me, since I've been baking a lot of video clips over the last few weeks. We got an instagram account set up for my coaches and I've been slowly filling it with example clips of our students. So far it's been well-received and I'm hoping this helps keep everyone on the same page!

- I've also been drinking coffee again, this time just black, no cashew milk or coconut cream. After having a few very unsatisfactory cups, I realized that it was the acidity of the lighter roasts that I didn't like, switched to darker, less acidic roasts,  and began enjoying my cuppa again! :) Today Maggie and I headed out to ft a cup of coffee and find a workplace with wifi (she to do homework, me to write lesson plans for my advanced class and watch swim videos). We originally headed for Starbucks so she could try the Hawaiian Ka'u I've been loving, but when re parking lot proved untenable, we diverted to a local shop and tries their Ethiopia blend, roasted on site. (It was excellent!)

Sunday, November 1, 2015


- Finished week one of Whole30 today. In many ways it was way easier than last year (my first W30). I never did get crazy cravings (though I miss cheese :( ) and hit the "food as fuel" stage by about Thursday (whereas last year it wasn't until week 3 or 4). I did, however, get a terrible headache on Tuesday that lasted until Thursday, when it reached migraine pain levels. I went home from swim and crashed early in a completely dark house. On Friday it wasn't as bad but still definitely present, so I treated myself with chia seeds, black coffee, and a handful of ibibuprofen, and went to work. Not sure if it was any of the above or the fact that we took the triplets to the pool (and water always makes everything better!) but by afternoon it was gone and hasn't come back. I don't actually know that it was connected to the W30, but I'm suspicious.

- I worked most of the weekend, but after I got off work today I had visions of going to the bank, depositing my paychecks via the atm, then going grocery shopping and coming home to food prep for the week. Which is why I panicked a little when I got to the bank and realized that my debit card expired today. :/ Normally my bank sends me a new one automatically a month or two beforehand, so I hadn't given it a second thought. I scraped together all the cash I had on me or squirreled away for emergencies, and managed to get everything I needed for the next few days with pennies to spare. Tomorrow I get to deal with getting a replacement card. Yay.

- I did, however, get to spend a lovely evening at home, listening to The Big Broadcast while I cooked for the upcoming week (bolognese loaded with peppers and squash and spinach, hard-boiled eggs, tandoori chicken, shrimp and peppers, and a pot roast) and then did a quick cleaning spree. House looks great, I'm exhausted but happy, life is good. :)

- I'm really, really loving the weather this fall. I rolled the electric heaters back into storage after that one cold weekend. The heat kicks in a couple times each night, but I've had the windows open every day, it's perfect snuggle weather, and I'm enjoying every second. Looks like it should mostly hold steady for awhile, too. I'd be thrilled if it lasted til Thanksgiving!

- This morning my friend posted a recording of the church bells ringing in her home parish, and it made me smile and laugh out loud. Being alive is wonderful!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


- Last minute sister date with Liz to the movies (Hotel Transylvania 2);  cherry coke (only at the movies!) and extra butter on the popcorn.

- Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning! I even defrosted and cleaned the refrigerator. Cleaned the girls' cage. Washed dishes. Put away laundry. My house looks great! (Now to keep it that way...)

-  Maggie, Ruth, Mom and I started another Whole30 on Monday, so Sunday was mostly spent in grocery shopping and food propping. I'd forgotten both how expensive Whole30 can be (especially that first week) and how much planning/prep it takes (although less than the first time we did it - experience helps!). That pretty much explains why it's Wednesday and I'm only just now recapping the weekend - the fog is real. ;)

- I'm wrapping up my second month of teaching the advanced class, and I finally feel comfortable enough with our routine to write it down for my two assisting coaches and declare it official. I'll keep tweaking at it (I'm ALWAYS tweaking at something!) but "We have a plan!" ;)

- Is it just me, or did the last two months just whiz by?! I can't believe it's almost November... feels unreal. A couple of weeks and we'll be into the holiday season. Is it sad that I'm already looking forward to my college coaches returning? I saw this:  https://youtu.be/cX_TrDGY3XQ and immediately texted Connor, challenging him to a contest as soon as he got home. ;)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

"Swim Your Own Race"

by Mbali Vilakazi
There is life here
Beneath the surface tension
of shattered
bones, dreams and splintered muscles
things broken
and those that may never be replaced.
Pulling the weight of it,
you do not tread the water wounded
and in retreat
By the determined strokes of fate
you swim your own race
The shoulder of your strength leaning
against the turn --
the eye that didn’t see that day,
stopping the clock on the vision of your time.
You continue to beat
into the heart of the spectacle
Manchester City, Beijing, Athens and London.
In no ordinary silence
do we watch
our own feared hopes waking
and now, breathless
in awe --
you are unforgettable.
Woman of scars, and triumph
the dance is fluid
tears of loss flowing
towards your many firsts
You are the Order of Ikhamanga
in gold.
A flower,
beautiful and unique
among the baobabs of the land
Your shape shifting
The disabled-abled body
A quest
untempered by its tests --
“if you want to get there, you go on”
You have already won
You always do
And we do too
We are the believers.
The message in its possibility:
A new freestyle,
Long distance
And in your own lane.

Life Lately

- For my own records: I pulled out the electric heaters Sunday night for the first time (overnight lows in the low 30's). If I didn't have pets, I'd have stuck it out with the electric blanket, since I got in late and left for work again early, but I felt bad letting it get chilly with the girls getting old. And they don't make jackets for rats - I've checked. (I'll probably break out the electric blanket this weekend.)

- New swimming idea this morning: teaching breaststroke kick, specifically the turned-out-toes, kick-with-the-inside-of-your-foot part, by having the swimmer kick a ball several times with the inside of their foot. I was trying to get this concept across to a student yesterday morning, and after several different approaches with limited success, he asked if it was "like kicking a soccer ball." YES. Yes, it is. (Why do the simplest teaching methods only seem to occur to me after much frustration?)

- I'm enjoying: the weather lately... except for yesterday (when I felt half-frozen most of the day) I'm loving sweaters and scarves and savoring the last few days of driving with the windows down in the truck. Good times. Also, my very clean truck (we'll see how long THAT lasts lol!).

- Listening to: Harry Connick Jr's "Red Light, Blue Light" album (so much fun!); Rachel Platten's "Fight Song" and "1000 Ships"; more Steve Haufler.

- Eating: the last of the batch of red beans and rice I froze several weeks ago with Cris and Mags (they liked it, so much so that Cris asked for the recipe to make at the station).

- Thinking about: getting a new phone. Anna needs a new one and wants to switch to my phone company since she uses her phone now so much more at school. I was going to upgrade anyway, so I'm going .to pass it on to her and probably get a Galaxy (which will most only be bigger in size, but have a better camera, which will be nice since I want to start taking example videos for my coaches).

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Life, Lately

- Thinking about: the "catch" part of the freestyle pull - it's a concept I struggle with (both the "doing" and the "teaching" part) but I've been collecting a lot of exercises about it lately and putting them into practice (again, both in my own practice and in my classes) and I can feel/see them working. Maybe the light is starting to shine a bit?

- Remembering: how much fun we had at the pool with the triplets on Friday. I showered everyone there, so when we got home (way, way late for us) I just fed them dinner and we snuggled on the couch together until bedtime. :)

- Listening to: an old Go Fish album I found rattling around while cleaning this weekend (and only just realizing, after years of being pretty fond of their sound, that it's meant to be kid's music. Go figure). More talks by Steve Haufler (I've fallen asleep three times this week trying to finish it. It's not that it's boring (Steve Haufler never is!) but I'm exhausted!).

- Reading: Hidden Things. I've been craving a good read lately, an inky escape, if you will, but I was reluctant to go out and hunt for a novel to read since I've been disappointed a lot lately. Then I was at the dollar store and swung through the book section, no expecting much (since, you know, the kind of books at the dollar store are usually there for a reason, coughcough). I picked it up, read the first two pages, fell in love hard. I read it slowly for a few days, reluctant for it to end too quickly, and then on Saturday morning I gave in and finished it all in one fell swoop. And bawled. And it went straight to my "favorite books" list. So hauntingly beautiful, so amazing. If you've ever struggled with change, or found yourself reframing your life after loss, this book will echo with you. I'm devastated that the author hasn't written anything else! Go. Get a copy. Read it.

- Watching: the swim meet at the college. I wanted to make it down early and see some of my former students swim, but life got in the way and by the time I made it down, it was all older kids (who are still fun to watch, but not my kids). Depending on how tomorrow goes, I might get to duck in for a bit before work.

- Working on: getting my master list updated. (When did I let the record-keeping get so far behind? Grr...) Writing down things I need to remember next year. Trying to get the laundry situation under control. I should also clean the house. Bleh.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


- Staying up way too late watching swim videos on YouTube. Discovering that GoSwim has a channel with so many good clips, I could cry with joy. (I strongly suspect that my boss knew this and just never told me about it. :/). Setting up an Instagram account for my coaches and feeling the pressure to record some video to get up there. Tearing the place apart looking for my Steve Haufler "Positioning Techniques" DVD and coming up empty - where the heck could it have gone?! (Did I lend it to someone?) Inventing a new game to teach breaststroke with my advanced class on Monday. Starting a journal to keep track of my advanced class lesson plans. Spending a couple more hours adding things to the training materials I started at the beginning of the season.

This post really wasn't going to be all about swim. Let's see, what else...

- Trying the new Jamaican restaurant with dad because there were not one but two accidents last night that shut down both roads home, so we were stranded in town. We had goat, it was amazing, I don't think he enjoyed it as much as I did, and I can't wait to take Maggie.

- Thinking about how amazingly low-key this week has been, between my 3 day weekend off (!!!) and not having to teach on Tuesday. I'm almost at loose ends, I don't know that to do with myself.

- Planning on: running errands tomorrow (dump, fill propane tanks, go to the post office). Going to the swim meet on Saturday. Taking the triplets to the pool on Friday with Maggie. Making a big batch of bath paint and letting the kids go crazy on Sunday night (I always try to do something special with them if I have to work Sundays).

- Eating a burger with Maggie. Shrimp and quinoa salad (lunch yesterday). Cottage cheese with apple butter. Drinking a lot of Red Bull lately (I was so tired by the time that Thursday rolled around last week, I grabbed one on my way to swim just to survive. My boss came up behind me to say hi an hour later, and I just about jumped out of my skin. No more caffeine on deck!).

Sunday, October 11, 2015


- Making: applesauce (for the triplets) and apple butter (for me); brownies (nailed the perfect recipe finally!); a big batch of quinoa (my first time!); lots and lots of herbal tea.

- Going: everywhere, on Friday (running errands); to the apple farm on Saturday (to buy apples for sauce and butter, and another pumpkin, and some purple mums, for good measure); on a long walk with my dad (4+ miles) to enjoy the fall leaves.

Accomplishing: some notes/thoughts/etc for swim (I sat down Friday night at 10 PM to look something up and finally made myself stop and go to bed at 3 AM); a fall manicure; a good cleaning of the front yard - got all the gardening supplies/pots put away and put out the pumpkins and mums on the front steps.

Thinking about: putting a ramp into the girls' cage so Zinnia can have an easier time getting up and down - her tumor has gotten larger and seems to be throwing off her balance :(; swim stuff (so many things to think about); how gratefulness has become my door into joy lately; building a tiny house (I know exactly what I want and have now for over a year).

- Loving: the cooler weather (snuggle weather!); how much the triplets are singing now (I LOVE it when we all sing together!); getting to coach the advanced class (for something that stressed me out so badly in the past, it's become one of my favorite things); laughing with mags, Liz, and Ruth (we've been doing that a lot lately!)

- Not liking so much: the marsala trend (not feeling it at all); dealing with difficult parents; that Cris has been sick this week, and hasn't felt up to adventuring.

Looking forward to: this week and getting to see Elena, who's subbing for some of my traveling coaches; getting to coach my advanced class AND some new students tomorrow (since their regular coach is traveling); seeing the triplets - I missed them this weekend lol;

Saturday, October 10, 2015

"Cinderella's Mouse"

So. Once Upon A Time I was in college, taking a creative writing class with a professor I had a huge amount of respect for, a writer himself who had written multiple novels (which I'd read, and loved).
I was also working almost full-time, and most of those hours were spent working the graveyard shift. Twice a week we had to write something from a prompt he'd give us, and one week, the prompt was that we had to rewrite a fairy tale from an unexplored point of view - for instance, one of the suggestions was "Cinderella from her mouse's POV." 
It happened to be a week where everything at work went horrible FUBAR, and it came down to an hour before class before I had a single spare moment. I sat in the library and completely freaked out, my brain an utter blank. One of my classmates walked in, and I explained to him my week and how I hadn't written so much as a word.
Not. One. Word.
"Write something. ANYTHING," he advised with equal parts sympathy and urgency, and fueled by his encouragement, I opened Word, began typing, and an hour later printed off a dozen copies (because we not only wrote twice a week, but we read our creations OUT LOUD IN FRONT OF EVERYONE while the rest of the students read along) and dashed up the stairs to the classroom, where I sat down and instantly had a panic attack because I had no idea what I'd just written. 
It came to be my turn, and my professor - a grave, serious guy, former Marine, war veteran - asked if I wanted to read it or if I wanted him to read it (a choice he'd begun offering graciously after several people had struggled with reading out loud). I was about two seconds away from dying, so I told him to go ahead (the one and only time I ever did). 
He began reading in his grave, serious voice, and I couldn't tell what he thought at all, until he came to my favorite line - "that long drowsy time where lunch is fading fast and dinner is still in the distant future, and a little Havarti passes the time so sweetly" - and he paused. 
It was a long pause. 
And then, he began to chuckle, and I began to breathe again.

It wasn’t my fault, really. I wasn’t looking for personal gain or profit, and I was not letting my stomach think for me, thank you very much. I was just minding my own business when fate dragged me into the middle of this mess. 

Ok, well, that isn’t really true either. It is true that I was in the pantry, but I wasn’t getting food for myself, I swear. I have mouths to feed at home. If I was sniping away a little crumb or two here and there, who can blame me? If I was being a little too daring for my own personal safety, well, a mouse has to do what a mouse has to do. I did not, after all, plan on being caught. But, the best laid plans of mice and men… 

It was just this afternoon, that long drowsy time where lunch is fading fast and dinner is still in the distant future, and a little Havarti passes the time so sweetly. I held out as long as I could – I mean, my family, huddled inside our poor, bare little mouse-hole under the china cabinet – held out as long as they could, before I came to the grim truth: if we were to eat, it was up to me. Not wanting to grieve Malena, the wife, I nobly tried to hide the truth of my mission.

Where are you going?”

It didn’t work.

“Out, my dear,” I assured her with all the gaiety I could muster. “I’ll be back in a jif. Do hold supper for me.”

“What do you mean, out? It’s after three – she’ll be back in the kitchen any minute to fix their supper. What on earth is so important that you’d risk leaving the den at this time of day?”

“She” was the only one who entered the kitchen these days. Years ago, when the kitchen was full of humans, constantly kneading this, mixing that, she used to come in, dressed in beautiful flouncy gowns with matching ribbons in her delicate light hair, and beg sweetmeats from the cook (who, I might add, was the terror of my ancestors, having declared war on my race with a vengeance). She was adored by the staff, and she grew tall and her hair darkened to auburn, though her dresses remained fancy and colorful. I’ll always remember the first time I saw her in black – her face looked paler, and great drips of water fell from her face, wetting my whiskers as I dashed from my hiding place under the oven back to the den. After she’d left, the same wet drops kept falling, this time from the eyes of Cook and the other girls. It was after that day that the staff began leaving, one by one, until only she was left. Good riddance! She never touched the traps that hung on the back door.

“Never you worry your pretty whiskers, Malena, it’s a task that I alone can bear,” I assured her. I ducked toward the hole, but Malena barred my way.

“Rolan Ratschwitz, you’re going out into the pantry, aren’t you?” Malena’ dark eyes glinted with concern for me. “Of all the mice in this county, I married one that thinks with his stomach!”

Malena does babble on so when she’s sick with worry.

“One of these days, you’re going to go too far, and you’ll have her on us, just like your father did with the last cook!” Malena ranted. “A fine world you’ll leave to our children – inciting war with the humans.” 

I glanced at our three young pups, nestled snug in a nest lined with Malena’s fur. Two girls and a boy, named for me. Fine looking pups, though the boy didn’t have the handsome physique that comes from my side of the family.

“If you get caught and she turns you over to the gardener, don’t come crying to me!” Malena finished, turning away so I wouldn’t see the tears of sadness on her whiskers. Emotional dear.

I seized this opportunity to duck out the hole and scurried along the wall until I came under the great stove. I sat for a moment, my nose alive with the wonderful afternoon kitchen smells – the yeasty, earthy smell of the bread rising above me, the sharp tangy taste of the spring onions in their basket, the sweet perfume of the fresh milk in its stoneware jug, resting on the counter. My whiskers jiggled in anticipation.

Bread and onions and milk are all good, but my intended target was resting on the shelf far above my head – the cheese. She’d been slicing good thick slices into the pastries she’d been fixing, but the sudden ringing of the bell sounded through the kitchen, and in her hurry she’d shoved the block of cheddar onto the shelf and away she went. 

It was a tricky climb, but one that I handled masterfully, I must say. From under the stove, I climbed up the rough wood of the wall, hidden by the stove pipe, and from there it was a dangerous leap to the shelf. When I finally landed, my energy worn by the sheer strength and daring of the journey, I barely had enough strength to drag myself over to the cheese itself.

It was magnificent. Taller than I was, stretching on like a great orange horizon, filled with rich cheddar goodness and flavor. I scampered nimbly up the side and plunged my teeth into the stuff.

Oh, heaven. 

I was so lost in lactose paradise that I didn’t hear the warning footsteps or the gentle tune she was humming until she was already in the kitchen. By the time I realized what was happening, she’d cut off my escape route and was headed towards me.

It was time for quick thinking. I ran towards the side of the shelf as fast as my little legs could carry me. I could jump from the shelf onto the counter below, and scurry down the side to the floor, where I could wait her out under the stove. It was nice and warm and my stomach was full – not a bad way to spend a few hours. When she served the supper to the rest of the humans, I would slip across the floor and into my den. Reaching the side of the shelf, I braced myself and jumped.

I still hold that my plan would have gone beautifully if I hadn’t forgotten about the bread dough (it’s only natural that a fellow would forget something like that in the heat of the moment, y’know). I landed smack dab in the middle of the loaf with a “plop” and a small cloud of flour. Instantly, I was dying. The flour clogged my eyes and nose, my feet were held powerless in the sticky goo, and I was rapidly sinking. My life flashed before my eyes. I thought about poor Malena, raising our pups alone, without the protection and provision of her strong husband. It was a heartbreaking thought.

Suddenly I was lifted high above the dough; my feet were still wrapped in flour like a fly in a spiderweb, and I was still half-blind and half-choked, but I was no longer sinking down into that fatal bog.

“You poor thing!” 

I blinked away some flour and looked up cautiously. I had been rescued by an angel, come to save me as I lay dying, fatally wounded in my efforts to feed my family, selfless to the end. The angel blinked at me with big doe eyes, cooing her sympathies at my plight. It was then I noticed the smudge of flour on her nose.

I still contend that if I’d not been covered in flour and dough from head to tail, and if I’d not been half-choked when I was rescued, that I could have engineered a daring escape plan, and been back in the den in a jiffy. As it was, before I’d quite got my breath back, she’d wiped off my paws and stuck me in an abandoned birdcage that sat in the kitchen corner, and I was trapped.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Still Adjusting...

... cuz I'm still dealing with crap.

1) Toddler art.
2) Colorful fall leaves.
3) Sunsets! Looking forward to reclaiming my spot in the hill again.
4) Coffee.
5) Lilo & Stitch (love that movie!)
6) Cool mornings.
7) Storytime at the library.
8) Getting to coach my advanced class.
9) Having a whole weekend off! Woohoo!
10) ... that eventually all things pass? Cuz honestly, that might be the most cheering though possible right now...

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

An Attitude Adjustment

... because I've had two days where nothing's gone right, and I'm not doing a good job of being positive.

1) Sunshine!
2) Coffee (even when it spills all over your shirt, down your pants leg, and into your shoe).
3) Completing a task that's been hanging over your head for awhile (whew!).
4) $3 clearance yellow mums.
5) When a plan comes together. I love it when a plan comes together. ;)
6) The glow and flicker of my favorite oak candle against my gray walls.
7) When one of the swimmers nails a perfect front glide and pops up afterwards to make sure you saw (love my kids!).
8) Finding a piece of clothing that fits just eight and looks amazing.
9) Driving with the windows down and the music turned up.
10) Getting an email from one of my coaches with some random encouragement - Lord knows I needed to hear it today! :)

Monday, October 5, 2015


- Eating: a cold burger and fries (worst restaurant experience I've had in a long, long time); way too much junk food; quinoa and kale salad from Panera Bread (twice this week, I'm addicted).

Listening to: Studio 360; recordings of gregorian chants (perfect for sleepy rainy days); Rod Stewart's Christmas album (because it has such a perfect jazz rhythm that never fails to make me happy ;)).

- Drinking: apple cider, black tea with lemon; white hot chocolate from Starbucks (it was good but sososo sweet and was probably my last one ever); coffee (I added cream and sweet-n-low like I used to cuz I was craving something sweet and I HATED it. Apparently once you start drinking it black there's no going back); Tazo's Pumpkin Chai tea (stole a bag from the care package I was boxing up for Anna); lots of herbal tea.

- Hanging out: with Maggie, Liz, Ruth, Dari, Cris, and my mom for a late dinner; on deck with the coaches (everyone's talking to me this year and I love it! I was lonely last year until people apparently decided that my boss was the scary one lol); the triplets (I don't purposefully set a different pace on the weekends but it seems to happen naturally) and their parents (I have good bosses :)).

Wasting time: watching the tenth season of Bones (love it, as usual); reading the "Awkward Yeti" comic (love it, as usual); snuggling in bed scrolling through Instagram and rereading old emails.

Thinking about: how changing up having the kids practice back kick in an "elevens" position instead of a streamline fixed the overextension (is that the word? Or overreaching?) on their backstroke without any further tinkering; how I really need to reread The Hobbit and then maybe work my way through the Chronicles of Narnia again; my annual fall craft party coming up.

Working on: not much; a new crocheted scarf (I have a problem); adding bits and pieces to the coaching notes I put together at the beginning of the season about each station.

Unexpected blessings: arriving at work to discover the kids were still sleeping (and would be for awhile); finding just enough extra time this weekend to clean the trailer (so I have a lovely apple and pumpkin scented home again!); making a spur of the moment "Target run" with the girls and laughing ourselves silly late at night when we were the only ones there.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Day Off

- The weather yesterday was as gross as promised. I stayed up late Thursday night, got the new roster for swim hashed out (which involved writing half a dozen emails to make last minute arrangements, since one of my coaches was injured this week and another had her availability change unexpectedly), wrote another half-dozen emails to people I owed emails to, and generally got everything squared away to the point that I was able to do nothing productive yesterday. I stayed in my pajamas, slept in, and lounged around thinking and watching the tenth season of Bones and periodically opening the door to feel how wet and gross it was and thanking God that I had nowhere to go. Of course, today it's back to work. ;)

- I had a dream last night; it's a dream I've been having for over two years, and while I'm not going to share the details, basically it's a stress dream in which I'm put on the spot (in the same way, every time) and I fail, despite my best efforts. I will say it's linked to something in my life, and it's just plausible enough (though extremely unlikely) that my first reaction upon waking has usually been a near panic state while I figured out whether it had actually happened or not.
Last night I had the dream again, but this time - THIS time! - I rose to the occasion and I succeeded! I woke up and I was just hugely excited about it. :) Not quite sure yet how this will affect the situation it's connected to, but apparently my subconscious feels it's no longer such a threat. ;)

- So, Hurricane Joaquin... I spent all week trying to figure out if it was going to be a significant thing or not. Apparently there were enough people who felt that it would, because I went grocery shopping Thursday night and there was no bottled water to be had in my town. This annoyed me on some level because I only drink bottled water at home (I have serious doubts about the safety of my potable water system) and I'd be buying water whether there was a potential weather event on the way or not.
But seriously, though, quite possibly because I'm was just too busy between working all weekend to think about it, I didn't do much else to prepare except to take my awning in. I figure I always have a pantry of canned goods and an extra case of water, and in the event of a power outage the only thing in my freezer is a big container of red beans and rice from last week, which seems like as good a "storm meal" as any. The only potential disaster left would be a tree dropping on my place (which my dad and brother have declared impossible but which I don't believe for a second) and there's absolutely nothing I could do to stop it, so I wasn't gonna waste time worrying about it.
And of course, in the end Joaquin ended up being a non-event this far up the coast... in fact, the new forecast for Monday (which was originally supposed to be the day it reached us) says we might see the sun for the first time in awhile! :)

- We just wrapped our first session at swim, and I was telling my boss that I feel like we've hit our stride already. Considering that it took me about five months last year to get my feet under me, I'll take it! We're comfortably staffed (we actually have more people on the roster than last year, but about half of the coaches have really limited availability, so it evens out), everybody seems comfortable, I've addressed a couple if issues that had popped up and they seem largely resolved (or at least under control).
Aaand the best part is  that I still get to teach three times a week, all advanced kids (which is awesome, because I need the practice!). :)

- For the record (because I always wonder about it each year): I used the heat this weekend for the first time. (I'm in good company, the triplets turned theirs on last night, too.) I didn't bother to drag out the electric heaters but I did run the propane system for about ten minutes every four or five hours to keep the place between 60-65 degrees (which is a wonderfully comfortable range with my polar bear tendencies, lol). I left it on overnight with the thermostat set to 55, figuring I'd be snuggled under my blankets anyway and didn't care if the temp dipped some, but I don't think it ran. Still haven't dragged out my electric blanket (nor have I missed it yet).

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Good And The Bad Of It

The weather is supposed to be just horrendous tomorrow.

But I have the day off!

Of course, it's my one day off this week before working an extremely long weekend and an equally packed week.

But next weekend I have the WHOLE WEEKEND off... I'm excited!

Anyway, about this spate of horrendous weather... everyone I know is like, "I have all the supplies laid in for a project I've been wanting to work on, I'm going to be so productive!"

Meanwhile, I'm over here like, "Um, my bed looks good. I was going to sleep a lot. Guess I could put clean sheets on it first..."

Sunday, September 27, 2015


- We had training for coaches on Saturday, so I took the opportunity to try a new recipe I'd had pinned for awhile: pumpkin snickerdoodles. So so so good!!! I'm not much of a cookie person, but these are definitely in the running for one of the best cookies of my life. I also made a big batch of what was supposed to be a gluten and dairy free version, but ended up being just gluten free after I got distracted and used real butter by accident. They actually held together and tasted ok, which is a first in my gluten free baking history, so yay!

-  Another new recipe I made this weekend: red beans and rice in the crockpot. One of the cheapest meals in the world if you have a stocked pantry cost me almost $30 since I was totally out of beans and almost every spice! ;) I looked at a ton of recipes and in the end combined elements from several, and it turned out beautifully! It was a lovely, fragrant meal to let simmer all day in the crockpot. :)

- And while we're talking about cajun food, here's a happy memory that flooded back to me as I was hunting for cajun seasoning: it was a little over four years ago, one of the last summers I spent in Alabama, and my best friend was dating the man who later became her husband. On one particular day, I had a huge allergic reaction to something (theme of my life) and I was absolutely miserable with a pounding head, running nose, watery eyes, and sneezing that just would not stop. Joe had invited us over to lunch and announced that he was making gumbo, and by the time we got there I was a complete hot mess. We walked in, I apologized for the sneezing, and Joe handed me a bowl of gumbo and a bottle of hot sauce that I'd never seen before. "Try this," he told me, and I poured it on generously and started eating.  Ten minutes later, my sinuses had cleared, I'd stopped sneezing, and I'd decided that my BFF should marry him. ;) (Just kidding - I pretty much knew he was the one for her the first time I saw them together!)

- The triplets traded in their cable for Netflix, and while I'm not a huge fan (to me, screentime is still screentime no matter what's playing, but now it seems like something Is always playing, and it drives me a little nuts) I stumbled across a new show this week that's won me over a little called Sing It On. It follows college acapella groups as they compete to make it in the national competition, and I'm loving the music. (Although, gotta admit, I want to see All-Night Yahtzee go DOWN lol.)

- I say this a lot, I know, but - I AM SO TIRED. :( I tried so hard this fall to balance all the schedules, to say no to projects that would have been fun but would have pushed me into dangerously overloaded, to create breathing room, etc... but I'm thinking I might need more margin than I originally thought. I was venting this week that I was already having trouble finding time to do things like make it to the bank or grocery store, nevermind tackling projects that need my attention. Feeling crappy most of the week definitely didn't help. Not sure yet what I'm going to do about it.