A Kemper Family Thanksgiving

I know you all anxiously wait for us to go on vacation so we can regale you with our lively stories. So, without further ado, I give you our Kemper Family Thanksgiving Extravaganza!

Thanksgiving Special: A Kemper Family Thanksgiving (Aired 11/16/2018-11/25/2018)

Aired only in real-time. You had to be there.

Episode 1: The Long Road to Gresham

Kevin & Samantha drive 12 hours to the Kemper Cottage, arriving in record time only to find that no one is home and they have to use the hide-a-key. Kevin & Nick decide to start watching Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers at 8:30pm (the extended version).

Episode 2: Are We There Yet?

In which Kevin & Samantha drive to three different grocery stores the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and everyone makes it to the beach house with just enough time to panic and rush to take family photos on the beach before the sun sets. A heated game of Monopoly pits Kiki & Nick against the rest of the family. Samantha triumphs as the winner.

Episode 3: More Photos?!

The family rallies for not one, but two more photo shoots. There’s just enough time left in the day to celebrate Kevin & Kiki’s birthdays with Costco chocolate cake and head to the mall 30 minutes before it closes. In a tragic stroke of bad luck, Nick locks the keys in the car. A tense car swap ensues, and Samantha, Kevin, Kiki & Alex head to dinner while the other three head home. The owner of the restaurant calls Kevin “Papa Bear” and he fears he’ll never be able to shake that nickname.

Episode 4: Kevin Turns 30

Alex & Kiki leave at the crack of dawn for class. Barb & Christopher return and retrieve the keys (and leftover pizza) from the trunk of the car. Barb, Christopher, Samantha & Kevin go to Mo’s for Kevin’s birthday dinner. The food is mediocre, but the Long Island iced teas are top notch.

Episode 5: Barb Has A Perfect Day

Kevin heads out for the day to visit family. Alex & Kiki return from Corvallis. Samantha sleeps in and goes to the mall with Barb for a few hours. Barb seizes the day early and goes for several walks on the beach, finishes three books, and learns how to walk on her hands. Kevin returns and demands that everyone walk on the beach at low tide. They end the day with a delicious pre-Thanksgiving ham dinner and a game of “What?”.

Episode 6: The Chinese Food Fiasco

Alex & Kiki drive to Corvallis & back before noon. The stormy weather hits. Alex & Kevin head to the mall only to find that it’s closed, so they head to J’s Fish & Chips for lunch only to find that it’s also closed. Barb, Christopher, Alex & Kiki head home for Friendsgiving & Thanksgiving Breakfast festivities. Samantha & Kevin embark on a hunt for Chinese food, only to discover that all the Chinese restaurants in Lincoln City are closed!

Episode 7: A Thanksgiving Christopher Won’t Remember

The family returns (with Nick this time) and are welcomed back with a Thanksgiving Charcuterie Appetizer. The family eats charcuterie and plays Uno, then retreats upstairs to watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail while Barb finishes cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Dinner is divine (prime rib, homemade mac n cheese, green beans, rolls, oyster stuffing) and Christopher sleeps right through it! They finish the night with a game of “What?” that takes a strangely inappropriate turn and will be remembered for decades to come.

Episode 8: Goodbye, Vacation Budget

Black Friday gets the best of Samantha, as she is drawn in by the 50% off Pendleton blankets sale (and drags Barb down with her). It’s a Pendleton blanket Christmas! J’s Fish & Chips is finally open and worth the 45 minute wait. Samantha & Barb get Dutch Bros. while Kevin waits for lunch to be ready. Alex & Kiki head back to Corvallis to watch the Civil War game. Samantha, Barb & Kevin get a solid hour of hot-tubbing in on the final night at the beach house.

Episode 9: How Did We Pack So Much Stuff?!

The gang wakes up early-ish to eat breakfast and pack up with time to spare for one last walk on the beach. They rendezvous at the Kemper Cottage to say their goodbyes, and Samantha and Kevin head to Boise. Thankfully, Boise has a Chinese restaurant that is open so Kevin can get his Chinese food fix.

Episode 10: Homeward Bound

Kevin & Samantha finish their road trip back home to Utah. They arrive home at 3:00pm but do absolutely nothing productive for the rest of the day (except finish watching Gilmore Girls!). Barb realizes that Samantha intentionally left a bag of Halloween candy, licorice and Ikea cookies hidden behind the couch at the Kemper Cottage. The family marks their calendars: less than a month until the Kemper Family Christmas begins!

Family Vacations 101

As I started writing this, I realized it’s more of a short story than a blog post, which is why it’s taken me almost a month to finish it. If there’s one thing you need to know about my family, it’s that you can’t summarize our life in 500 words or less. So, get ready for almost 3000 words of entertaining, wacky writing about my crazy family’s adventures!

Chapter 1: The Arrival

My family came to visit Kevin & me in Utah for the very first time a couple of weeks ago. My mom, dad, and youngest brother made the 12 hour trek from Oregon to Utah to spend a week with us! As you can probably imagine, I went all out. Overboard. I was a cleaning machine. I think I actually left work early the day they arrived so I could finish cleaning and make sure everything was immaculate for them.

I rearranged the furniture in my entire house until I was confident that it looked right. Okay, not really, but I did spend about 20 minutes deciding where the air mattress should go and which direction it should face.

My husband was actually on the brink of killing me so it’s a good thing they showed up when they did. The best thing about my family is they never travel empty-handed. On top of the 27 bags (because Mamma doesn’t know what she might want to wear or what the desert climate might decide to do today), they also brought us some beer (praise Jesus) and all of my childhood photo albums. 

The first of many In-n-Out trips!

The Barb (aka my mom) is on a bit of a decluttering blitz right now and everything must go. 

The photo albums even came in their own special blue tote (for safekeeping and easy storage)!

We had a full itinerary when we started planning this trip. That is, until The Barb got a real, physical map of Utah and realized that it was not feasible to go to Arches and Zion in the same weekend. But, she’s going to do 48 hikes this year so we had a lot of ground to cover at Arches.

We hit up In-N-Out Burger as soon as the Kemper Clan arrived. No In-N-Out in Oregon so it’s basically like sacred ground. Of course, we stayed up until way too late talking and laughing and probably disturbing our upstairs neighbors, which we severely regretted the next morning.

Chapter 2: Arches Day One

The day started bright and early. 5:00am. Okay, it was 5:30. Kevin made breakfast sandwiches for everyone with our handy breakfast sandwich maker. He was a little rusty, though, and had to throw out the first sandwich. Christopher decided it’s never too early for a root beer and cracked one open to go with his breakfast. My dad made coffee in our french press and it was almost like being at home in Oregon.

Except we only have one bathroom.

That made for an interesting week. 5 people, one bathroom.

Anyway, we piled in to the Toyota Corolla that really only seats 4.5 people. Let’s be real, the middle seat isn’t a real seat. Maybe if you’re a toddler, but then you have to use a car seat anyway. Luckily, the drive to Moab was only about 3 hours.

We left much later than we wanted to, per usual. We set our expectations too high and not all of us are morning people, but that’s fine because we had to stop at Starbucks to make sure everyone in the car had their caffeine and was in their happy place.

Starbucks was a near disaster.

It’s all a blur now, but there was something about my dad being the driver and not talking loud enough and not really wanting to order anyway, and the rest of us trying to decide what we wanted and direct everyone so that we could just order our drinks and get on with it.

In the confusion, my mom almost ordered the wrong drink, caught her mistake at the last second and changed it, but mistakenly ordered us both Venti beverages. If you’re not a Starbucks goer — first, are you really American? — Venti is the second largest beverage size. Normally, we’re Grande people.

This — unfortunately — led to an almost bathroom accident about an hour into the drive. Now, I have a small bladder but under normal conditions I could usually make it three hours without stopping to pee. But give me a large iced coffee and let me drink it in 15 minutes flat and we’re going to have an issue. I was convinced I could make it to the next town, but quickly realized that wasn’t happening, and we had to pull over.

I’ll just say this. I have never peed that much in my life, let alone when I’m sitting on the side of the road trying not to pee on my own shoes. Men have it easy in that regard. Women, we have to focus all our energy on creating one clear stream of pee. If the pee branches off and goes rogue, you’re screwed. If you pee to slowly or too quickly, it’s going to get on you. If you pee too much, you’ll have to avoid stepping in the pee puddle between your legs. And no matter how hard you try, you still manage to get pee on your shoes.

Somehow, we finally make it to Arches and Christopher and I are like, “What about second breakfast?” No one else is hungry, so we forage for snacks. Christopher goes on a tirade about how a snack is not equivalent to a meal. Don’t even try to confuse him with a compilation of snacks; he’ll see right through that facade.

Heat kills!

We get into the park and start our first hike, Devil’s Garden Trail. See my other blog post about this trail for more detailed information. Last time Kevin and I were here, it was spring. It was like 65 degrees when we started our hike and maybe it got up to 80 or 85. Maybe.

This time around, it was already a hundred degrees when we got there. There were signs at the front of the trail that literally said “Heat Kills“.

I volunteered to carry the backpack full of eight hundred water bottles. That way, if I did complain, everyone would let it go since I was carrying a heavy load. Kevin and I had been doing a lot of hiking prior to this trip and we felt fantastic. We kept saying, “Man, this is so much easier than the last time we did this hike.” 

Meanwhile, Christopher was on the lookout for shady spots to rest.  We tried explaining to him that we were in the desert, but he pressed on until he found a tiny amount of shade underneath some spindly desert tree. I was leading the pack and trying to make sure we stopped frequently to drink water. We had to bribe Christopher to keep going every time we stopped.

Kevin had decided he was going to wear this ridiculously awesome $2 sun hat from Ikea to protect his face and neck from the scorching sun. It was a good idea, except for the random gusts of wind. At one point, Kevin’s $1.50 hat flew off and made a break for it up the cliffside and two brave gentlemen coming from the other direction successfully stalled it, allowing Kevin to climb up the cliffside and retrieve his 67 cent hat.

When we passed the halfway point, Christopher’s mood took a turn.

Christopher in his preferred habitat – shade!

He realized that it no longer made sense to drag his feet and try to convince us to turn around. Rather, it was much quicker to just pick up the pace and high-tail it back to the car! He turned into a hiking machine and we struggled to keep up with him! At this point, the sun and heat had taken its toll and drinking water was no longer a laughing matter. There was a very real possibility of someone getting heat exhaustion or heat stroke and we had to be vigilant. People passing us saw our sweaty, sunburnt faces and decided to turn back rather than going all the way around the loop.

Once we made it out of the sand and onto the rocks, the temperature dropped substantially and we actually had a very nice hike the last two miles. Of course, by that time, my sandals had been rubbing on my feet and giving me blisters so I spent the last two miles trying to walk some weird way that avoided any more sandal rubbing.

We made it back to the parking lot and started the laborious process of filling up our water bottles, which was dangerous for two reasons. The first being these terrifying giant orange bees flying around the water fountain and the second being an ornery woman who kept making snide comments about us filling up 7 water bottles (as she stood behind us with about ten water bottles to fill up herself!).

We packed up our sweaty selves, our refilled water bottles, and the extra pounds of sand in our shoes and drove over to a picnic area to refuel our tired and hungry bodies. One hike was enough for the day, so we stopped at a few viewpoints on the way back and eventually made it to our hotel in Moab. Once we unloaded the car, The Barb and Christopher promptly passed out. Dad, Kevin, and I went outside to hang out in the pool for a couple of hours (where we inevitably got sunburnt).

Post-hike picnic!

Eventually, we woke The Barb for dinner and set off to our favorite Moab Brewery. I had only been looking forward to having my favorite beer for months, only to find that it was a seasonal beer and they no longer had it. Don’t ask me why but this hit me hard and I ended up crying in the bathroom over beer of all things! Our food was delicious and everyone else found a beer that suited them, and after much deliberation I finally had two vodka red bulls which put me in much better spirits.

The parents went off to get Wendy’s for Christopher’s dinner (yes, we left him at the hotel and went to the brewery without him, at his request) and Kevin and I walked back to the hotel (stopping for a quick detour to get some ice cream). Everyone slept great that night, except for Christopher (who stayed up watching tv until midnight) and Kevin and I (who were way too hot to fall asleep).

Chapter 3: Arches Day 2

Kevin and I awoke at 6:30, after barely sleeping the night before, and The Barb woke up at about 7:30 and got into bed with us (it’s our family’s thing, okay). We had grand plans to be out hiking before it got too hot, so I tried activating everyone and getting them moving around 8:00am. I can’t remember the exact order of things but a million people needed to take a shower, and pack up, and load up the car, and everyone was moving slower than molasses.

I took it upon myself to get everyone’s belongings in the car. I took several trips to the car, and each time I came back I took things out of people’s hands and put them in bags and put them in the car. I was not messing around. Christopher stayed in bed, trying to sleep, until five minutes before we left.

Finally, I was able to herd everyone into the car and we were off. First stop, Burger King. And thus began the second drive-thru disaster of our vacation.

In retrospect, we should have just gone in to the restaurant and ordered there. My dad pulled up so that my mom could order from the back seat. Kevin and I decided we didn’t want anything from the BK Lounge and were going to grab McDonald’s instead. The Barb ordered six items: two for her, two for Christopher, and two for my dad, and sure enough when the guy listed them back to her, something just wasn’t right.

The drive-thru anxiety was hitting me after yesterday’s debacle and I just wanted to get out of there. This very patient man read it off three times and put everyone’s order in a separate bag. The kicker: the order was still wrong.

Kevin and I grabbed our breakfast at what has to be the shadiest McDonald’s I’ve ever been to. We got back in the car where a heated debate was going about the tax rates in Utah. The Barb had all of her receipts out and was analyzing each one of them, trying to figure out if the total was wrong or if the tax rate was wrong. And so, the discovery was made that there are different tax rates for different things in Utah.

Side note: this tax conversation went on for several more days and became a major source of entertainment!

We grabbed coffee at the cute coffeeshop on our way out of town and made it to Arches for Day 2. Christop

I can’t even with this cuteness!

her was less than enthused, having realized that he had to go out into the sun for a second day. After spending 45 minutes in line, waiting to get into the park, we hiked Delicate Arch. This was a tough one for Christopher since he is not a fan of heights, so he didn’t make it down to the arch to take pictures with the fam.

Although it was crowded, we were actually able to take a picture of just Delicate Arch all by itself, which was amazing!

We checked out Sand Dune Arch after that and then called it a day. I wanted to hike Corona Arch, which is outside of the park, so we drove out there but then decided that it was a 3 mile hike during the hottest hours of the day and no one but me really wanted to do it (and I knew I could go back a different time).

The Barb had a quest to dip her feet in the Colorado River, so we went in search of a place to do just that. First, we ended up in a gross swamp that wasn’t even technically the river and had a lot of nasty bugs in it. We drove back closer to Moab and saw a park that looked promising. As it turns out,

Delicate Arch – perfection!

they really don’t want you to put your feet in the river. Something about dangerous currents and your children drowning? There were signs everywhere and no access to the river so we kept driving, hoping to find a spot along the highway with access.

Eventually, we found a promising beach-y area that we thought we could walk to so we pulled over, walked down through the bushes and at last, made it to the river! We took our shoes off and stuck our feet in the refreshing water. The Barb went for it and waded in fully clothed. Kevin jumped in with his shorts on. Christopher wouldn’t get in with only his undies on (and he had white shorts) so he asked my dad to grab some other shorts from the car. He said he would grab my swimsuit as well, but by the time he got back I had gone in with only my underwear and bra on. He had only been able to find a pair of sweats for Christopher, which gave us a good laugh, so they both stood on the shoreline watching us swim.

Dinnertime was looming, so we walked back to our car and took turns holding towels up so that we could undress without being seen by random passing cars. We drove back into town, stopped briefly at a few shops, found the Mexican blanket I had been searching for all my life, and ate at a delicious Mexican restaurant before heading back home.

Chapter 4: The Rest

After our Arches vacation, the family stayed for a few more days. Christopher and The Barb got massages, Dad & Kevin had to work, and we ventured out for one more hike in Pleasant Grove. It turns out that The Barb’s lofty hiking goals weren’t so attainable after we had hiked ourselves to death the first day. We took a few naps, visited mine and Kevin’s workplaces, had a lovely charcuterie dinner and lots of In-n-Out Burger, and watched the fireworks from the balcony at my work on the 4th of July.

The family left the next day, in a much emptier car, and began their 13-hour journey back home. We’ve decided that we need to get a family quote book before we forget all of this great material. Of course, some of it is fun for me to write about in my blog but some things are like “you had to be there” or we think it’s funny but no one else gets it.

Coming soon: The family beach house get-together on Thanksgiving! There will certainly be enough material for another novella here on the blog!

What’s Wrong With Youth Sports Today: Parents Edition

*Parents, please note that the following post contains a mix of satire and truth. It’s up to you to decide how much you take seriously. 

I recently posted about my personal experiences with youth sports and realized that I had more to say than would fit into one blog post.

So, here is the Parents Edition of What’s Wrong With Youth Sports Today.

I’ll just come right out and say it: parents are ruining youth sports. 

Now, someone remind me (once again) to write a follow-up on this once I have my own children. I’m sure I will have a boatload more to say at that point, but for now this is my stance.

Why are parents ruining youth sport? I’ll tell you why:

  • They are too damn supportive. Back in the day, parents just dropped their kids off at soccer practice and picked them up when they were done. Now, not only are your parents cheering you on at every game, they’re also telling you to run faster during practice. As kids, we play sports to get away from our parents. Don’t ruin this for us.
  • They only buy healthy snacks. These days everyone is gluten free and/or has a peanut allergy. Gone are the days when the snack after the game was not really a food group at all. I once saw a parent bring two veggie trays as a snack at a soccer jamboree and I almost fainted at the sight of it. What has the world come to?
  • They cheer so damn loud. Want to know why I chose swimming as my sport? Because you can’t hear your parents cheering you on if you’re underwater. I actually can’t even sit next to my mom at any sporting event because her cheer gradually gets louder and higher-pitched throughout the game, until you’re sure that you’re going to lose your hearing.
  • They’re convinced that their kid is the best. Although we could have used the self-esteem boost, I’m glad that our parents never told us we were the best players on the team. Because those kids have the worst attitudes and the worst sportsmanship. They’re the ones who throw a fit when the game just isn’t going their way or when another kid on the team isn’t as good as they are. They’re terrible to be around if the team is losing, and their parents enable that behavior.
  • They’re also convinced that they would be a better coach. I was going to say especially the dads, but the truth is that the moms are just as bad. I won’t discriminate based on gender. Every parent thinks that they could do a better job. They could shape up the team. They could lift their spirits. They could magically make every kid into a pro player by the end of the season. And they would do it without yelling as much as Coach Johnson does. You go, Karen. Let’s see you try and coach the team. You and your veggie trays won’t last an hour.
  • Or worse, they are the coach. I think the best year of soccer I ever played was when we had a coach who was a younger guy–I think he was in college–and he was not a parent of anyone on the team. Matter of fact, I don’t think he was a parent, period. Everyone on that team improved their skills, was given a chance to play a fair amount of time each game, and even the all-stars had better attitudes. Maybe this guy was just a soccer-coaching wizard, but I do think it makes a difference having a coach who isn’t a parent of one of their players. Matter of fact, more parents should coach opposing teams. I can’t think of anything better than winning against a team that your parent is coaching and I can’t think of anything worse than losing to that team.
  • They become an expert on the sport. There are pros and cons to this, of course, but overall I don’t think any kid wants their parent to micro-manage every aspect of their life based on their current sport. Especially since your kid probably isn’t going to become a professional athlete. Don’t crush their dreams, but maybe let them take some initiative and become an expert on their sport. Let them put in the extra hours practicing, if they want to, but don’t make them. Be there for them, support them, and remember that they already have a coach. 
  • They’re too invested. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a high-school-age referee or umpire get verbally abused by parents at a game. It’s youth sports, people! There are going to be bad calls. There are going to be questionable calls. There are going to be good calls that you still disagree with. Be a good example and don’t scream at the 16-year-old referee. He’s just trying to do his job and you’re making it harder. Go to a professional sporting event if you want to be surrounded by adults who complain about every referee’s call. Guess what? You can drink beer there, too! 

Okay, now that I’ve demeaned all of you and your life’s work as parents, what now?

Well, you can write me some hate mail or you can try something different:

  • Talk to your kids about your level of involvement in their sport. Maybe they absolutely love having you at every game cheering them on. Or maybe they really like hanging out with their friends in the dugout telling inappropriate jokes and they’d rather you not be around to spoil their fun! Maybe they want you to coach their team this year and they think you’re a great coach. Or maybe they would rather have a coach that is just a coach.
  • Consider coaching another team. If you love coaching and want to be heavily involved, consider coaching a team that your kid doesn’t play on. Obviously this could be a scheduling nightmare, so it might not work for everyone. But you might find that it’s actually more enjoyable to coach a bunch of kids you’ve never met. As a babysitter, I can tell you that kids usually behave better when they’re with anyone else besides their parents, so that could be a win-win!
  • Skip the games, or take a walk. If you find that you tend to get riled up watching your kid play, consider staying at home for some of their games, or taking a walk during the game if you suddenly hear yourself yelling five times louder and higher than normal. Or fill your water bottle with vodka if that calms you down. Either one.

And last but not least, don’t be an asshat. Just don’t. Your kid is watching you. Other kids are watching you. Other parents are watching you. Judgmental bloggers are watching you. Treat people with respect and don’t lose your shit over a youth sporting event. It’s supposed to be all about having fun, right?

Make youth sports fun again!

Side note: I realize that not everyone will be happy with me for giving unsolicited advice to parents, when I am not a parent myself. But think of it this way. I’m 23 years old. I remember vividly what it was like to be a kid. I think my parents still consider me a kid. So take this as advice from a kid’s perspective. Once I have kids of my own, I’m sure I will have plenty more to add from the perspective of a parent. Stay tuned. 

What’s Wrong With Youth Sports Today?

What’s wrong with youth sports today?

Probably a lot of things. But I can only speak to my personal experience. I was a competitive swimmer from the age of 9 to 17.

Swimming is a whole different ball game. Mainly because it isn’t a ballgame.

Swimming is an individual sport that sometimes pretends to be a team sport. Swimming is absolute hell. If you’re thinking about joining the military, try being a competitive swimmer first. There’s a much lower risk of death, but you’ll spend most of your day following orders, adhering to a strict regimen, and having no semblance of a social life. If you think swimming is an easy sport, meet me at the nearest olympic-size pool and bring your inhaler. Even if you don’t have an inhaler, you’ll need one.

If you like waking up before 5:00am and starting your day with a freezing cold shower, this may be the perfect sport for you!

loved swimming as a kid. I loved taking swim lessons. I picked it up quickly and I was so much better than the other kids. I loved playing in my grandpa’s pool and I loved swimming in lakes. I loved swimming in the tiny kiddie pool in my backyard. Yes, the one with the slide.

By the time I retired from swimming at the ripe old age of 17, I loathed it. 

The first problem with youth sports is that kids are being pressured at such a young age to pick just one to focus on. I swam and played soccer until high school. Then I decided to pursue swimming exclusively since I didn’t have time to do both. Why didn’t I have time? Because swimming took up too much of it. It was too demanding. If I wanted to be a great swimmer, I needed to dedicate all my time to it.

Or so the coaches said.

I loved my coaches. They were all great people and I really do believe they all meant well. It’s probably one of those trickle-down effect things. They had a coach who told them this is how it is, so then they became a coach and told us this is how it is.

I don’t blame them for their occasional Hitler-esque behavior. I blame the culture.

Everyone wants to hear that they have a shot at something. That it’s not too late for them to be great, to be the best. But let’s face it, some people are born with natural talent and all the right circumstances. The rest of us are born with the world’s greatest work ethic, and some of us work hard enough to measure up to the talent.

A side note: I am from the “everyone gets a trophy” generation and I have something I’d like to say about that. We didn’t even want the trophies. That was all on the parents, who just wanted to raise their kids without them ever having to feel left out or not good enough or disappointed in themselves. More on that in another post later.

But that’s what this all comes down to, right, is this lie that everyone gets a trophy just for participating. I really and truly believed that if I worked hard enough, I would be a fast enough swimmer to get a college scholarship. I’m not even talking about unrealistic dreams of getting to Olympic Trials. I just wanted a scholarship. Not even a full-ride, just a scholarship, just something to help me pay for college.

If my coaches had been honest with themselves and honest with me, I could have focused less on swimming (not quit, just spent less time and energy on it) and focused more on academics. As it was, I was killing myself trying to do both. But we keep telling ourselves this lie that if we work hard enough, the big break is coming. When in reality, the big break might have been something else entirely had we actually listened to the universe.

Swimming taught me a million lessons that I hold near and dear to my heart, so I don’t believe that I wasted any time. I don’t have regrets. In fact, I count my lucky stars that I was too busy and exhausted to really deal with high school drama. You know those people who wish they could go back to high school? Who are those people and what high school did they go to?! Not mine.

Swimming taught me dedication. 

I can’t think of anything more dedicated than getting up at 4:50am every day just to do something you’re mediocre at (other than what most of us do at our own jobs on a daily basis). I was 100% dedicated to the sport. I did everything right: the workouts, the stretches, the diet (all the carbs you can eat, baby). I suffered through the hard times. I went to swim meets when I had sinus infections. I went to swim meets when I had ear infections.

I kept swimming when I found out that I had exercise-induced asthma and the chlorine and all the other chemicals were literally killing my lungs. I got an inhaler that didn’t help, and I kept swimming. I kept swimming even when it seemed like it was so much easier for everyone else on the team. I kept swimming even when the younger kids gradually got better and faster than me.

And that dedication never really leaves you. I recently did the Whole30 with my husband and he struggled through the entire thing, complaining all the way. I laughed and told him we should do a Whole365. After he said hell to the no, he said I believe you would do that just to prove you could.

He’s 100% right. I can commit to just about anything and see it through to the end, and I owe it all to swimming.

Swimming also taught me when to quit. 

It’s really difficult to quit on anything when you’ve grown up with the quitting is not an option mentality. Now, my parents would never make me do anything I really didn’t want to do. But if the time came for piano lessons and I wasn’t feeling it that day, you bet they’d make me go.

I can hear my mom saying, you can go to piano crying or you can go to piano smiling, but you’re going either way. 

That exact scenario might not have even happened, but it’s hilarious to think about.

But there does come a time when you have to quit on things, or rather, let them go. It’s a fine line. You can’t keep working at a job you hate, but you can’t quit your job every time some little thing upsets you. That’s where the dedication comes in.

You do have to be able to quit, leave things behind, without feeling guilty or thinking you’re a quitter. I was in my senior year of high school and I was ready to leave a lot of things behind. I was burnt out, depressed, anemic (which wasn’t helping the depression), and felt like a shell of the person I used to be. Or I just didn’t have the energy to be the person I used to be.

Swimming and I had a good run. I got some ribbons, some medals, some recognition. I threw up at practice a dozen times. And I don’t know if it was one specific day or a multitude of days, but at some point that year I decided I would not continue swimming. I would finish up high school swim season and short course season and I would be done. I think I fought an internal battle with myself about this for years, but when it was all said and done all I felt was relief.

But, swimming also taught me to stay active.

So of course I decided to learn how to play hockey after that. I couldn’t handle all of the free time. I had to find something else to keep me busy. I also started teaching fitness classes at my gym. I joined a hockey team. And honestly, I was not very good, but most of us weren’t. It wasn’t about being the best, it was about having a good time and learning how to be better and challenging myself.

I have no regrets. I’m glad that I pushed through and kept swimming until I finished high school. It was a nice, clean break. But I think we have to start looking at youth sports in a different light.

Let your kids play the sports they enjoy. Of course there will be days when they hate soccer practice and they’ll have to tough it out, but recognize that there is a difference between not wanting to go to one soccer practice and never wanting to play soccer ever again.

Help them understand that there’s more to play for besides the trophy everyone gets. They are learning valuable skills that will help them later in life, and there’s also something to be said for practicing and improving your own skills, even if you’re not going to make it to the level you’d like to be at.

Walk away from things when it’s time to walk away. This could be a sport, it could be a job, it could be a person. Listen to what’s going on internally and allow yourself to quit if that’s what will make you happy.

And don’t let your kids be swimmers unless you want to wake up at 5am to take them to practice, wash their chlorine-covered towels, and buy 4 times as many groceries because we really do eat like Michael Phelps.

What’s wrong with youth sports today?

All the adult involvement. The competition. The seriousness. Not every kid is going to be the best. Your kid might not be the best.

Let’s give youth sports back to the kids.

And just let them have fun.





25 Legit Reasons To Stay Home From Work

Now, I love where I work. I love the people, I love what I do everyday, and I love how short the commute is. I really have nothing to complain about at all. Nevertheless, I still wake up some days and dread getting out of my comfy bed and facing the day.

It really has nothing to do with going to work at all. It has to do with going out into the world. 

So, for anyone else who just didn’t feel like going out into the world today, here’s a (hopefully humorous) list of legitimate reasons you can use to justify staying home in your comfy bed:

  1. It snowed last night and your car is covered in six inches of powder. The ice scraper/snow brush thing is inside the car so there’s no way to get to it without getting snow all over you.
  2. Your husband woke you up in the middle of the night by loudly blowing his nose, knocking over a bottle of water, and turning on the bathroom light because he forgot to take his contacts out. It clearly disrupted your REM cycle and you need at least a four hour nap.
  3. It’s too cold outside the comfort of your bed.
  4. You went to the gym this morning, so you definitely deserve to stay home and rest for the remainder of the day.
  5. You got a sunburn last weekend and it can’t have any clothing touching it, otherwise it hurts with a vengeance. Going to work topless is unfortunately not an option.
  6. Your sunburn that you got last weekend is now peeling and itching like a MOFO.
  7. The house is a mess. You need to spend the day at home deep-cleaning everything.
  8. You need to catch up on all of the Netflix shows your husband has been telling you to watch.
  9. Your jeans feel tighter than they did yesterday and you can’t bear going to work after clearly gaining fifteen pounds overnight.
  10. All of your clothes are clean (for once) so there are too many outfit choices to choose from.
  11. It’s too sunny outside and you don’t know where your sunglasses are.
  12. You have to clean up all of your clothes that are now strewn about the bedroom floor, after trying on every single article of clothing you own looking for something to wear.
  13. There’s no one around to put aloe vera on your back, because your husband is a responsible adult who went to work early.
  14. You’re too tired to legally be driving, maybe you’re at risk for falling asleep at the wheel.
  15. You have to make breakfast after going to the gym, which means you’ll be late anyway so you might as well just call it a day.
  16. You’re already late for work because of the last 15 reasons, so what’s the point in even trying to get to work at all?
  17. You’re going to be even later the longer you argue with yourself about whether or not you should stay home, so just stay home.
  18. You just remembered you need to get gas so that’s going to be another hour added on to your commute.
  19. There’s no Dutch Bros. near where you live, so there’s no point in ever getting out of bed really.
  20. Your husband is at work, so if you stay home you’ll have the entire house to yourself! Which means you can nap, all alone, spread out in the center of the bed.
  21. Maybe you’d be more productive if you stayed home. Maybe you could write an entire novel in one day if you really focused on it.
  22. Your husband has been sick all week, which means you’ll probably get sick next week, so you’d better rest up now and hopefully not catch his cold.
  23. There’s probably one or two thank-you cards you still haven’t sent out from your wedding. You should probably take the day to get those done.
  24. If you took a nap, you could go to the gym again this afternoon! Maybe it’s not too late to be an olympic athlete.
  25. It’s Friday. You showed up 4 out of 5 days this week. You deserve the day off!

What are your favorite reasons for staying home from work? What are some reasons you wish your boss thought were legitimate? Comment below!