Friday, December 28, 2012

Lesson from the holiday

Teaching the Christmas spirit.

It was important for my husband and I to take a big moment this holiday to teach our kids about the REAL meaning of Christmas.  The true Christmas spirit of giving back, of giving of your time and your smile to make someone else's day better.  I wasn't quite sure how to go about it since my kids are 6 and 4 and all they knew about Christmas was the that Santa brought them gifts.  But, I knew this was the year…the perfect time for their ripe brains and wide open eyes to see and feel all the joy of the holidays. 

So, I took to the internet and up popped some ideas.  The one that struck me was visiting a retirement home…I vividly remember visiting my grandpa in his retirement home, and he and his friends would be thrilled that I was there…nothing in hand, just the fact that I took the time to visit made their day.  I had tears in my eyes just thinking about it. So we made a plan that included the following steps:
  • called ahead to clarify visiting hours and let the home know we were bringing children
  • made some cookies, which we also cleared with the staff on our call
  • talked to the kids about it, so they were prepared and excited
  • kept an open mind as to what we would see
  • put a smile on our faces 

Everyone had just finished their dinner and were heading back to their rooms when we arrived.
And we had our bag full of cookies ready for delivery.  The first door we knocked on that got a response was Ellen's.  She wheeled up and opened the door, and her eyes immediately went to the kids and lit up.  She just wanted to shake their hands and she couldn't stop saying "Thank you."  She then asked if we would sing a song…so we did.  "Rudolph the red nose reindeer" was the kids choice, and she clapped along.  I snuck a look over at my husband and we shared a teary moment during the chorus.  We delivered more cookies and heard tons a great stories. We heard all about Charles and his heroism in the war (I saw his purple hear…amazing) and he played us a Christmas tune on his harmonica.  We helped another woman find her way back to her husband, and my patient 4-and-3/4-year-old answered everyone's questions without a skip...even when they asked him the same question two or three times.  

What a gift.  What an amazing night for us as parents.  A wonderful and magical dose of Christmas spirit….loving, caring and sharing with people we didn't know until we knocked on their door.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Summer on the Run: Blog 6 -- Incentives that help me run through the cold

Summer on the Run: Incentives that help me run through the cold            Dec 21, 2012 12:56 PM ET | By Summer Sanders

Continuing the Summer on the Run 12-week blog and video series, blog six. Use hashtag #GoRun on Twitter to follow Summer and be part of the ongoing conversation.

I  don't have just one mantra because every day is different.
Lately, I've realized more than ever that life is short, and though sometimes I want to give in to the temptation to stay inside and skip a run, I know I can push through it. Once I'm done, I always feel so much better.
I'm not a cold-weather runner, so I struggle with the elements this time of year. This is my first time training for a winter half, so I'm dealing with all of it right now... 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A stress-free holiday

Ahhh. This is tough to do, yet we all seem to strive for it. I think removing stress from the holidays all comes down to one word: Procrastination. It doesn't work when it comes to the holidays. There are the few things I think you can wait until the last minute to do...aka Stocking stuffers, which you can pick up in any aisle lines even at the grocery store, but most work best when you plan ahead.

7 tips for a stress-free holiday
  1. Stay at home! But if you are traveling this holiday season and must ignore, replace with "fly with patience." We love waking up in our own home and encourage family to come to us for the snow and an idyllic white Christmas. We have traveled before, and it is so much more stressful getting everything organized, packed, wrapped and shipped.
  2. Make a list and check it 100 times. Write down everyone you need a gift for…and really include everyone. Then, write down what you are giving them. If you are at all like me, you will forget who gets the fuzzy slippers and who gets the picture frame.
  3. Buy a few extra gifts. Just in case someone slipped your mind or someone gives you a gift and you didn't plan on it, having backups is always helpful. Make it unisex cool and buy a separate one for a kid.
  4. Use your kids creativity. For the parents out there, take advantage of the precious artwork you were thinking of "filing away" and create a one of a kind gift for a grandparent who has everything. They'll cherish it.
  5. Buy decor late. If money is stressing you out, do what my mom did and make it a big deal to go out and buy your tree on Christmas Eve for a third of the price. Make it like you are "rescuing" this poor little forgotten tree. Think Charlie Brown's tree:) Then you don't have to worry about all those decorations weeks before hand. Same goes for wrapping paper, etc. They all go on sale the week of Christmas.
  6. Don't Do Everything your asked. While we're tempted to say yes to every party or outing, remember it's okay to stay in during the holidays. Don't loose sight of what is really important. Trust me, your friends will understand!
  7. Pull Double duty a fun way. Invite a few friends over to get your Christmas wrapping done together, or bake cookies for those exchanges. You'll get to spend QT with people you want to see, and you'll all get something accomplished. With the kids' asleep, you never know, a spontaneous party may ensue.
And to get a start on next year, think about applying tip #5 again right after the holidays. You can also get HUGE savings deals on decor after the holiday and get an early start on removing stress for next year. Just remember where you stash it so you can find it 12 months later :)

When all else fails, light the fire, turn on Christmas music, make some cookies and snuggle up. Life doesn't get any less stressful or relaxing.  Happy Holidays!!

Summer on the Run: Blog 5 - Reasons to get out there and run

Dec 19, 2012 12:50 PM ET | By Summer Sanders

Continuing the Summer on the Run 12-week blog and video series, blog five. Use hashtag #GoRun on Twitter to follow Summer and be part of the ongoing conversation.

I run because it opens me up. It's me time, and every moment I'm out there is a challenge that I have to meet.

It's not easy. It reminds me of when I was swimming -- it's freeing, it relieves my stress and it gives me focus. Those good feelings are not tied to one sport. They are part of athletes' universal language.

Running also opens up my creativity.

I always have my smartphone on me, which is crucial when I run. I think of all kinds of ideas while I'm out there... Read the rest here on ESPNW

Source: via espnW on Pinterest

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Summer on the Run: Post 4 - Training with my girlfriends

Training with my girlfriends lifts me

Dec 17, 2012 1:33 PM ET | By Summer Sanders
Continuing the Summer on the Run 12-week blog and video series, blog three. Use hashtag #GoRun on Twitter to follow Summer and be part of the ongoing conversation.

I'm inspired by my girlfriends, just as I'm inspired by professional athletes. I admire those who stick to their commitments and goals, especially when it's not easy. We're all so busy and have a lot of things in our lives that we need to balance.
I have been traveling a ton lately, so I jumped at the chance for a run with my girlfriends. One of us picks the day, another chooses the window of time and a third selects the place. It's best to go with the flow when you're planning to run with other busy people.
Read the rest HERE on 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Summer on the Run: Signing up to run with a smile

Summer on the Run is a 12-week blog and video series that follows former Olympic swimmer and avid runner Summer Sanders on her journey to train for Disney's Princess Half Marathon on Feb. 24. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, she will share training tips, and a little inspiration, as she gears up for the main event. Use hashtag #GoRun on Twitter to follow Summer and be part of the ongoing conversation.

Signing up to run ... with a smile

I started running as soon as I hung up my suit. The day after I retired from swimming, I ran with my best friend on Campus Drive at Stanford University; it's a 4-mile loop. I remember loving it from the very beginning. There was so much to see and take in, which was a huge difference from swimming, even at the Olympic level. In the pool, you can't see everything around you or take in the feel of a new place.
But I also remember that running didn't come naturally. Accomplishments are more worthwhile when you earn them -- when you have to work hard to really get something new. I stick to that when my kids, Skye (age 6) and Spider (4), tell me I'm sweaty after a run...Continue reading here at ESPNW.