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: 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..."