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Public Service Announcement: How To Teach Your Kids To Swim

29 May

Anyone that knows me knows that I love swimming. I started on swim team at six years old, started teaching swim lessons at 14, and was a swim coach for three years. I was also a lifeguard for five years. So, yes, I’ve spent a lot of time at pools.

I believe that swimming was a tremendous gift that my parents gave me. It is my form of meditation, and a form of exercise I can carry with me into adulthood, and through two pregnancies and recovering from knee surgery. I definitely want to pass on the same gift to my children.

Swimming is our main activity together in the summer. Like yesterday, when we went to the pool and were immersed for three hours. Nothing makes me happier than sharing my love of the water with my kids.

What frustrates me, though, is watching how some other parents approach swimming with their children. Namely, when people put their small children in suits that have built in life jackets, built in floatation and water wings, or water wings.

At all of the pools I worked at, having flotation devices on your children was strictly prohibited. There was a good reason for that rule — putting children in flotation devices gives them a false sense of security in the water. They believe they can swim, and they do not learn the proper respect for the water. It also messes up their body positioning in the water.

Yesterday, I watched a woman who had her two year old in a life vest and water wings. The woman was in the water, but standing 3 feet from her daughter, saying, “look, you can swim!”

What I see is a two year old getting false confidence that could be deadly if she comes across a body of water while an adult isn’t looking.

What also drives me crazy is the parents that put their kids in flotation devices and then sit on the deck watching from afar. First rule of teaching your kids to swim: GET IN THE WATER. There is no replacement for adult supervision. Ever. Keep the flotation devices OFF of your children, and get in and hold them, teaching them how to kick, blow bubbles, hold their breath, and move their arms. It is really that simple. Those simple skills may take a while, but that is really what it’s all about.

Also have them practice grabbing onto the wall (doing the monkey walk to get to more shallow water), and getting out on their own (that’s right, without any pushes from the parent). It is my goal to ensure if my kids fall into a pool by accident that they won’t panic, will be able to turn around, grab the wall, and get out. I also drill into their heads that they do not get in the water without me. Period. My almost 3 year old will wait patiently on the step until I get to the pool.

I think it’s also important to get in and swim with your kids. Get your hair wet. Wear goggles and have underwater tea parties. Swim like a mermaid. I was at the pool yesterday, and for the majority of the time, I was the only parent in the water. So many women don’t want to get their hair wet or mess up their makeup. My advice to you: get over it! It is much more fun to just jump in completely than worry about every splash messing something up. I think my kids learn how to respect and enjoy the water because they see me doing it as well.

So what should you do with your kids? If they’re young, it’s all about imagination and play. Try ring around the rosy (you all fall down underwater and blow bubbles), host tea parties, go on lion hunts (or insert your favorite animal, going through obstacles like sinking sand, holes water falls, etc. on your quest), play tag. I buy my kids super cool pool toys each year (because they all seem to disappear by the end of the summer anyway). We have a shark, dive rings, kick board, etc. The kick board is strictly for kicking with my supervision. It is not a flotation device! I will not buy them anything inflatable besides a ball. The ball is only acceptable because they cannot rely on it to keep them afloat. They must rely on me or themselves.

I think getting kids goggles also makes a huge difference. I’ve found the brand Finis to be the most reliable against leaks. Goggles take away the strange sensation of water in your eyes, and also helps you to open your eyes underwater and feel comfortable.

There you have my words of advice. And for the record, I do own life vests for my kids, but those are saved strictly for our lake or ocean outings, where a wave or a sudden dip in the sand could pull them under. They never wear them in the pool.

After three hours in the pool yesterday, I taught my kids another lifeguard trick… When you’re chilled from being in the water so long, there is NOTHING that feels as good as laying on the hot cement. NOTHING. I had a moment yesterday where we all three were laying on the pool deck together, and I couldn’t help beaming, knowing that the tradition of swimming will live on in these two.

Reasons I hate USPS

22 Jul

Edited to add:  After countless calls to the national USPS customer service and our local post office, I was told that my normal carrier was on vacation, and that’s why they thought the package got lost.  Just the day after she returned from vacation, the package arrived in my mailbox, thrilling me to no end.  So, lesson learned…  If you’re going to send USPS, buy insurance!  I know we shouldn’t have to, but this experience proved to me how unorganized they can be when things go wrong! 


I ordered a very sentimental, personalized gift back in June, and according to USPS, it was delivered to my house on Friday.

But the problem is that it really wasn’t. 

I called them on Saturday and opened a case, and also discovered that because I didn’t get insurance, I’m SOL if they don’t find it.  I’ve always had an issue with them selling insurance.  Aren’t I paying you for a service?  Why should I have to buy insurace if you fail to provide the service for which I’m paying you?!  Just makes me angry.

Now I’m even more angry.  They said someone would get back to me on Tuesday.  No one did.  I called on Tuesday, they said someone would call me by end of day. 

They didn’t.  I called on Wednesday.  They said someone would get back to me by end of day.  They didn’t.

I called today, and they said I should call the local post office.  I did.  The line has been busy for the past hour.

I’m ready to scream.  I’m not sure whether to re-order this package, or if I should still wait on them.  I’m sure the delivery person stuck this small package in the wrong mailbox, and I’m also wondering why no one bothered to get it to me if that is the case.

After this experience, I’m no longer going to use them unless it’s required.  Just because they’re a government entity doesn’t mean they can treat people like this.

Trumping the Vendor

9 Dec

Six months ago, I asked a vendor to do a quick 4 question survey to customers when they call our call center, and give me the results. They sat on the request for ages, and then handed me an estimate that it would cost $6400 do complete the survey for me.

In a stroke of brillance, I said, I’ll use SurveyMonkey, write up the survey, and you just have your people click on the link and then enter in what the customer says. Cost = FREE. Seriously, I just trumped a whole team of their people!

Thanks, SurveyMonkey.

This is Wrong on So Many Levels

15 Sep

In our paper this weekend was an article about a 22 year-old woman who is auctioning off her virginity in order to pay for student loans.  The “deed” will be done at the Moonlight Bunny Ranch here in Nevada.

I can’t tell you how much this disturbs me.  She is flaunting that she’ll be a “prostitute for a day”, and trying to get publicity through Howard Stern, and Good Morning America (good luck getting on the morning show I say). 

It’s just wrong.  Virginity is a special gift to give to someone you love, not to auction to the highest (not to mention freaky and perverted) bidder.

Here is a link to the article.

Oh, and as I was searching online for the link to this article, I found another mention of an 18 year-old who has already auctioned off her virginity.  An exerpt from that article:

“Reid revealed the highest bidder was a divorced 44-year-old BT engineer and father of two. He offered a staggering $20,500 for her ‘services’.

Reid admitted the experience was “horrible” but blessedly brief. “It was horrible. . . I felt nervous and scared,” she said.”

That is just sick. You know who I feel sorry for in these situations? The girls’ parents. I can’t imagine how heart broken (not to mention disgusted) my parents would have been if I had pulled such a stunt. Haven’t these girls heard of getting jobs?! Or perhaps choosing a less expensive university instead of selling their souls?!

You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me

11 Sep

High heeled shoes for infants.

I’m shaking my head on this one.  I hate high heels, and feel like we need to abolish them once and for all — NOT start having babies wear them!

Don’t Mistake Palin for Women’s Lib

2 Sep

Along with the rest of the nation, I was shocked with McCain’s choice of a woman, a relatively unkown woman, for VP. As I research more about her, I am appalled by what the election of her and McCain would mean for women’s rights, science and democracy.  I believe that McCain chose her to capture womens’ votes, but to fellow women, I say beware…

This article excerpt sums it up:

“A significant part of Palin’s base of support lies among social and Christian conservatives. Her positions on social issues emerged slowly during the campaign: on abortion (should be banned for anything other than saving the life of the mother), stem cell research (opposed), physician-assisted suicide (opposed), creationism (should be discussed in schools), state health benefits for same-sex partners (opposed, and supports a constitutional amendment to bar them).”

And here are my thoughts on those issues:

Abortion — A highly charged topic, it is my belief that it is a woman’s right to choose what is right for her and her own body.  Although I have religious beliefs that would prevent me from choosing an abortion, it is MY RIGHT to make that choice.  This topic crosses heavily over into religion, and I firmly believe that we should maintain separation of church and state.  I also cringe at the implication to women’s rights if Roe vs. Wade is overturned.  As has happened in history, when abortions are outlawed, illegal operations crop up, which can severely compromise a woman’s health (if not kill her).  Pregnancy is a huge responsibility, in which you can really screw up a fetus/baby if you are not completely bought in to the process — via drugs, unhealthy eating, smoking, alcohol, etc.  Why do we want to force those types of people to carry out an unwanted pregnancy?!  This country was founded on religious freedom, so we should preserve the right for people with different beliefs to make their own decisions.  Especially in situations where the mother’s health or life could be compromised by a pregnancy, I say back off politicians and let the doctors make the decisions!

Stem cell research — In my opinion, this is another instance where the religious views of politicians are getting in the way of science.  I don’t understand why we cannot use the cells from embryos left over from fertility treatments that are set to be destroyed anyway.  Once you have known someone that is impacted by an infliction that could benefit from stem cell research, you see first hand how frustrating it is that politicians are impeding the progress.  I’ve had two very good friends that were paralyzed — one paraplegic and one quadriplegic.  For my friend, Heidi Van Arnem (please go read about her), that was a quadriplegic, it is too late to improve her life with stem cell research because she died at age 36 from complications due to her paralysis.  I worked with the disability community during my tenure at General Motors, and to hear first hand from these people about the great implications of stem cell research, I just don’t understand why we would choose to protect cells from embryos that would be destroyed anyway over the health improvement implications for existing people already struggling with disabilities.  At least McCain isn’t outwardly opposed to stem cell research, as he is quoted as saying, ““This is a tough issue for those of us in the pro-life community. I would remind you that these stem cells are either going to be discarded or perpetually frozen. We need to do what we can to relieve human suffering.”

Physician assisted suicide — I don’t understand why we cannot afford humans the same dignity we offer animals when the pain is just too much.  I have watched one of my grandparents suffer with emphysema, and another with dimensia, and both were fates that I just can’t imagine anyone would want to endure.  Once again, this is a religious decision that politicians are thwarting.  This is a free country.  If I don’t have the religious beliefs to stop me from engaging in physician assisted suicide, what right does Washington have to stop me?  I don’t think I’d personally do this either, but once again, I firmly believe it should be my choice.

Same sex marriage — The health benefits are tied to the same sex marriage debate.  I say if people want to get married and follow the same laws and ties of marriage, then so be it.  If they then choose to get divorced, they will then have to endure the same trials as any heterosexual couple.  Once again, this country was founded on religious tolerance, so I think politicians should stop making the religious judgement that same sex marriage is wrong, and just let people make their own choices and deal with the ramifications that those choices cause.

So, as we face Decision 2008, once again, I find myself choosing to vote for the lesser of two evils.  I’m not convinced either McCain or Obama are the candidates that this country needs.

You Know What Really Chaps My Hide?

28 Aug

Now that it is summer, I regularly get peeved by the cute young things that come to the gym just to sunbathe in their bikinis.  (I know, something my male readers couldn’t understand.)  I workout HARD every time I go to the gym.  I have a trainer that regularly kicks my butt.  I bust my butt in spin class, on the treadmill, and I swim really hard when I work out in the pool.

It just doesn’t seem fair that when they go to the gym, all they do is slather on tanning oil and lay in their oh so perfect bodies.  I workout hard enough to deserve a body like that, darnit!  It’s just not fair!