Thursday, February 19, 2015

To Read or Not to Read?



Reading and I kind of have a love/ hate relationship. When I was little, I read all.the.time. I have always been a very fast reader and I would read for hours on end and devour books in record time. But as I got older, two things happened. 1. My attention span got shorter (don't ask me how this happened - I don't think it's supposed to work like that) and 2. I ran out of books I was interested in. See, kids' books are basically amazing. Interesting stuff happens in them but nothing too terrible or depressing. And I don't know, they just have a certain charm about them. Adult fiction is often dirty, frequently deals with depressing subjects, or is cheesy romance. Bleck. So between my difficulty in sitting still to read and the lack of good subject matter, the amount of time I spent reading went down, down, down. Then enter the world of biographies. I found out that I really enjoyed reading books about people who had achieved interesting and inspirational things in their lives. So I read all kinds of books about ice skaters, gymnasts, musicians, and now swimmers. I still can only stand to read for short amounts of time and  I've started doing other things at the same time like reading while I eat lunch or stretching while I read or stuff like that. It keeps me engaged longer. But still. It's good reading. It inspires me to work harder and not waste my life, it's fascinating, and it doesn't feel like I'm filling my mind with garbage.


So far this year, I have read some fascinating books: Staying Focused about Noelle Pikus Pace, Olympic skeleton racer, No Limits about Michael Phelps, Olympic swimmer, Gifted Hands about Ben Carson, the first neuro-surgeon to successfully separate Siamese twins joined at the head (and both twins survive), and Champions Are Raised not Born about Olympic swimmer, Summer Sanders. I have also listened via audio book to The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz and Failing Forward by John Maxwell - both excellent books that really challenged me to examine the way I think about what I can or cannot do or attempt! These books have all been extremely inspiring and intriguing, and I would definitely recommend them!  I am currently in the middle of  Monsters and Angels: Surviving a Career in Music about Seymour Bernstein, a pianist and composer  and Gold in the Water about some elite swimmers and their journey to the Olympics. I am also reading a book of poetry by William Butler Yates. Additionally, I'm in the middle of an audio book version of Anna Karenina by Tolstoy (which I can definitely only take in small doses!), and I just started an audio book version of Today Matters by John Maxwell. After I finish the books I'm currently reading, I hope to read Unbroken, about an Olympic runner, soldier, and POW, and Age is Just a Number, about Olympic swimmer, Dara Torres. Perhaps also a book by Paul Coehlo! So, you can see, I have rediscovered a love for reading! There is still the small problem of finding time to read but ya know....one obstacle at a time! :)

What books do you like to read? I hope you have books you enjoy and that you are able to squeeze in a little time to read them!



Love, Tiffany

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Frozen - South Carolina Style

Guess what!?! Elsa graced us with some of her icy magic Monday night! While some people may have not been happy and while it might not seem like much in the way of winter weather to our Northern neighbors, at least three people could not have been more delighted - my brother, Matt, my sister, Bethany, and moi! :) We were antsy with anticipation Sunday and Monday, hoping, hoping that some sort of frozen precipitation would actually occur. Monday night when nothing besides a few flurries had materialized, we were gloomily eating supper and sadly going about our business (OK so actually that's a lie - we were actually greedily devouring supper with a great deal of enjoyment and having fun working puzzles with my grandpa but still, we were feeling disappointed) when Sofi, my dog, needed to go for a walk. We step outside and what to our wondering eyes should appear but beautiful snow falling here!!! OK so maybe it wasn't *exactly* snow but it was definitely snow-like and totally thrilling to see! AND it was sticking! We tromped all around the yard in it, threw ice balls at each other, attempted to make ice angels, and built a tiny snowman, whom we named Olaf Junior. It was super fun. When we were cold enough that everything but our hearts was frozen, we went inside and got in our warm, fuzzy pajamas and drank hot chocolate and sat at the kitchen table and played games and worked puzzles. Then, we all snuggled in my mom's bed and watched Alexander and the Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day. 

A couple videos of our excitement.....
https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=630864856078&l=9212972871595568745

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=630864746298&l=7480029969924600221


Olaf Junior!



The next morning, we awoke to find that even more snow-ice had come during the night. Swim practice was canceled, school was canceled, the roads were icy, so we gave ourselves up to the amazingness of a snow day. My mom made french toast for breakfast and then we bundled up and went outside to play in the frozen delight. The best part was "sledding" down my grandparents' driveway on cardboard boxes! It was super fun although we kind of turned the slush on the street below into a puddle with repeated sliding, which meant every time we went down, we landed in a little pool of frozen water! There might as well have been swim practice - it would have been warmer and I probably wouldn't have gotten any wetter than I did with the sledding haha! We were FREEZING and WET but we kept going until we had destroyed every bit of cardboard my grandpa had scavenged for us. It was SOOOO fun!! :D

Me sledding!
https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=630834387138&l=4471769927252591469

We spent the rest of the day with games and crossword puzzles and hot chocolate and baking cookies. It was the BEST day EVER!! :D

Hope you are staying warm and taking some time for some winter FUN wherever you are!

Love, Tiffany

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Second Meet = Basically a Pro

Last weekend I went to my second swim meet! I enjoyed it more than the first one - I think because this time I knew a little more what was going on. And even if I still felt halfway clueless, that is way better than completely clueless! Right? Right. It got off to a kind of rocky start because when I went to drop my dog off at the kennel, they told me they had never gotten a copy of her vaccination records from the vet. I had left my number when I made the reservations with instructions to call me if there were any problems...did they? NOPE. And they absolutely refused to let her stay without the records. I didn't know what on earth I was going to do...I needed to be on the road RIGHT.THEN to get to the meet on time. I was praying and freaking out and trying not to completely lose it. God was so gracious that he allowed my awesome piano teacher and his wife to kindly and graciously agree to watch her for me. As it turned out, they fell in love with my sweet little Sofi. It was so sweet because they kept sending me updates and pictures of her. They even facetimed me once so I could see her! :)


Anyhow, so I eventually made it to the meet - but I missed my first event. :( I was rather sad about this and pretty stressed by this point but I had to get over it and move on mentally to the rest of my events. The good news is that (with the exception of 50 breast that I got DQed in = more sadness) I lowered all my times!!! :) That's what my goal was for the meet so I was pretty happy. I learned from my teammates that a great way to keep up with when your event is is to write your event and heat and lane numbers on your hand. Which I did. I also printed off the programs before I got there and highlighted my events. Bam. So, this meet I knew where I was supposed to be and when. That was a huge improvement from last time when I didn't even get a copy of the program until the second day and was kinda lost about where I was supposed to be and how this whole meet thing worked. Oops. I was also prepared for any down time with my trusty old cell phone and ipod and the delights of trivia crack and facetiming my sister. Oh and lots of snacks. Unfortunately, there was surprisingly little downtime so I hardly got to eat any of my snacks and only got to play a little bit of my games and music. Oh well. I guess *technically* I'm there to swim not play trivia crack and eat grapes anyway. 

This is my "Game Face." It only took me like 5 tries before I could keep it long enough for the picture without busting out laughing!! haha

Saturday night we had a team dinner which was pretty fun! I get really, really hyper at meets so I wanted to play games and have a bunch of fun that night but everyone else said they were too tired to play games. Bummer. I'm going to have to work on convincing them how fun games are...Coach Carolyn *promised* that at the next meet we would play games...which I am totally going to hold her to. I was officially inducted into the team that night though - by receiving my special Greenville Splash monogrammed underwear. It's a team tradition to receive these when you do an overnight meet with the team. I am not sure whether to be excited that I am now an official member, disturbed that we have "team undies," or embarrassed that we were being given underwear in the middle of a restaurant on a Saturday night! haha Anywho.......

My crazy team!
I made myself go to bed instead of hanging out in the hotel lobby like the last meet but I'm afraid I still didn't sleep well. Meets just make me too full of adrenaline and I just can't calm down! :O Maybe this will get better with time....The second day I continued lowering my times but I was tired....(think not calming down enough to sleep could have anything to do with that?? Nah. Must be something else.)  Our team came in first place from the out of state teams (5 years in a row!) and 2nd overall - out of 39 teams with 5 teams who had more people! I think I'm part of a pretty amazing team. :D




I thought Coach Mark and Tracy needed some help with their image...aka bunny ears....I guess I'm basically  10 haha


I can't wait until the next meet - in 2 weeks!! :) Here's to working my butt off between now and then so I can lower my times some more!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Of Mistletoe and New Beginnings and Ordinary Happenings

Yeah. So um I've been meaning to blog ever since some time before Christmas. By now ya'll know how it goes for me....I plan all kinds of awesome posts IN MY MIND....and yeah then they stop there. Excuses for why this happens:

1. I am constantly on the go with a million and one things to do every.single.minute.
2. If I am ever not on the go, I am asleep.
3. In the rare moments that I am not busy or asleep, I want to be lazy and do something mindless like scroll through Facebook or something. (Actually it is a good thing that I have Facebook on my phone. Otherwise I would probably never get on there either. Or is that a bad thing....Hmmm I'll get back to you on that one.)

OK so now that we got that out of the way....down to the substance of this post - which is actually hard to ascertain. See, at first I was going to write a post about Christmas but now that's just so last year (See what I did there??). But it seems a shame to ignore it completely when it was so nice and all. So then I was going to write a post about the New Year and how awesome it is to see it all stretched out before you with all kinds of amazing possibilities.,,,,and no mistakes in it yet (kind of like what  Anne of Green Gables said). But now that was rather a long time ago and a lot of life has happened since then. So I decided to kind of smush all of those topics together into one Goulash kind of a blog post. So here goes....

First of all....Christmas. It can be described in two words - Awesome and Microscopic. In other words, it was super amazing and I had so much fun with my family but it felt like it was about three hours instead of three weeks. I was not ready to leave them. Sniff. It was so fun to have everyone together though and lots of baking and eating and laughing and movies and general Ours family craziness  awesomeness happened. And I got a swim bag which was pretty much so happy. I get great enjoyment out of using it every day. #itsthelittlethings Some people including me got sick which was kind of a bummer so we won't spend time talking about that.

Second of all.....New Years. Well, actually I was sick for New Years so yeah....BUT not so sick that my brain couldn't dream and plan and be filled with all kinds of inspiring thoughts. Plus, since I was sick, I took the time to read three books I had been wanting to read: No Limits by Michael Phelps, Gifted Hands by Ben Carson, and Staying Focused by Noelle Pikus Pace. Three amazing books about three spectacular people who achieved amazing things in their respective fields and overcame all kinds of obstacles. I want to do something extraordinary with my life. Or maybe many extraordinary things! I don't want to settle for average though that is for sure. I don't know exactly what God has for me but I don't want to waste any opportunities or let any obstacles stand in my way! I love the start of brand new years because they are a great time to remind myself of all I want to accomplish and thank God for the achievements of the past year. Time keeps flying by faster than ever which just makes me more determined than ever to make the absolute most out of each day!

Third of all....Life in general. January is probably not my most favorite month in the world because it's kind of a let down after all of the excitement of Christmas. But, I have so very much to be thankful for and lots to keep me busy, so I try to focus on that. Piano, school, swimming, church, friends....makes for a very full life!! There is a swim meet coming up next weekend so that is pretty much super exciting and terrifying, I am preparing for my graduate chamber ensemble recital in March which is also super exciting and terrifying and Jan term is coming to a close very quickly (4 credit hours in 4 weeks? Like a boss baby!) which is also rather terrifying in a way because I have to get those last assignments finished haha and exciting as we start spring term.

Yep so how is that for a nutshell super fast synopsis of my life these past few weeks? I technically probably should upload some pics but I'm feeling kinda lazy and plus I really need to get to bed! Yeah you heard that right....yeah it's only 9:30ish but I found out that I have to try to get a little bit of sleep if I want to give 100 percent to my swim and piano practice. It's kind of a bummer seeing as I have way too many interesting things to do to sleep. But yearh I'm trying. And 4:00 am does come awfully quickly! :0

Best wishes to all of you as you try to live out your New Year's resolutions!  Don't give up when the going gets tough! You can do it!! :)

Love,
Tiffany

"Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time>"

Thomas Edison





Monday, December 15, 2014

It's Beginning to Look (and Feel) a Lot Like Christmas!

Guess what??!!! I'm finally on Christmas Break!! First semester of grad school = Beasted! I must say, it feels pretty amazing! :D

The last week as I was finishing up with final papers, lessons, and playing for people's juries (music performance final exams), I also made some time to hang out with friends and do Christmassy stuff!
My former Spanish professor and I had been trying to get together all term - we hadn't seen each other in several years - but our schedules never matched so that we could meet up. Last week, though, we were finally able to meet for lunch. It was great to see him - he was a super influential person in my life. I was also able to meet a new friend from my swim team for lunch - which we had also been wanting to do for a few months. Tuesday night, we had a party for my swim team - we sang Christmas carols and I played the piano. It was lots of fun. I brought these cute little cookies:



My friends and I also had a fun lunch for Katherine's birthday, which we also made be an ugly sweater Christmas party. Except - some of the people didn't get the memo, so only like three of us wore ugly sweaters. Mine was a sweater which I then pinned a dog toy too! haha It was so much fun to hang out together and eat Katherine's delicious lunch she made for us (I mean, she was the birthday girl and she still cooked! Great friend, huh!?!). It was a blast!!! I laugh so so much every time I hang out with these fabulous ladies!







I also snuck in a visit to my grandparents and an awesome Elf party with the Pruetts - whom I have known for years and years but haven't seen for a while! We drank hot chocolate and watched Elf and ate nutella and other snacks by the fire. Unfortunately, I had to finish a final exam during the first half of the movie, and as soon as I finished the exam and sat still, I fell asleep! haha but it was still fun. Friday night I had a little sleepover with my former piano teacher, Mrs. Davies. She is a barrel of fun! We went out to dinner and watched Christmas netflix movies until we were too sleepy to stay up any later. Saturday was an absolute blast - my friends and I went ice skating and to the Roper Mountain Holiday Lights. That night was the big swim team Christmas party which was super fun. To make it even better, I convinced my sister Ashlyn to come to it with me.


I also spent some time making my room full of Christmas cheer and making and decorating a big batch of sugar cookies to bring to the swim Christmas party. 





















And yesterday I got to come home!! So happy to be with my family and so excited to do tons of fun Christmassy activities! I love Christmas sooooo much. My little brother is so sweet - he made a bucket list while I was still at school of things for us to do together when I got home.



The break is already off to an awesome start - in addition to swim practice and piano practice - we've watched like 3 Christmas movies, played some games, and made gingerbread cookies! And I've only been home for like 36 hours! Can't wait to see what else we do!
Wishing you all a fun advent season! 
Love, Tiffany

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Just Keep Swimming

So last weekend I went to my first swim meet! It was absolutely terrifying and kinda awesome all at the same time. I had never even been to a swim meet as a spectator before let alone swum in one so I had no idea what to expect. My coaches helped me though and explained what to do and when to do it. I competed in the 50 free, 50 back, 100 free, and 100 IM. I also swam 50 free as part of a few relays with my team. I was also supposed to compete in the 50 breast but cute story..........I kinda missed it. My coach said the events went by really fast and so I should be behind the blocks by the time she was finishing her race...and so I did. Somehow I must have zoned out....I'm not really sure....just I was waiting and waiting and feeling nervous and then the timing guy asked me if I was Tiffany and said I was supposed to be in his lane and then people were diving in and I was like "Did I miss it?" and he was like "Uh yeah." I'm still not exactly sure how it happened....



I think I came in last...I'm still super slow...but you know what, that's OK. Well, actually it's not - I'm dying to get faster and am very impatient about how long it's taking me to get where I want to go - but the point is I've only been swimming for a few months and when I started, I didn't think I would ever be able to swim in a swim meet or at least it would be a very long time before I would be ready. But guess what? I've already done my first one! And I am not going to stay this slow - I'm going to keep working and get much faster! Also, there is one very good thing about being last - the only way to go is up!




Saturday, December 6, 2014

So Much to Be Thankful For

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!! I certainly did. I kicked it off a bit early with a whirlwind weekend trip home where all my family (with the exception of my dear sweet Abby) was able to be home *at the same time* (I know right?? so shocking...it is pretty much a pre-Christmas miracle)...to celebrate Sarah Brooke's first birthday and dedication in church. It was great to see everyone. We did lots of fun familyish types of things including going to a 10 pm showing of Mockingjay with the sibs. We also managed to snap a shot of the family together.


Then it was back to Spartanburg for two days before heading back for Thanksgiving!! Wednesday was a whirlwhind of trying to squeeze in swim practice, piano practice, family time, and the all-important task of baking pies!



Thursday several of my siblings and I (and Maria, our awesome international student who stayed with us during Thanksgiving) woke up bright and early in time to participate in the Turkey Trot at 8 am. Some people did the 1 mile fun run and some did the 5K. I did both with a mixture of walking and running. I ran more this year than I ever have before so that made me feel proud! haha


We came home to a delicious breakfast of pumpkin pancakes and bacon which my mom and Chris made for us while we were running - because they're just awesome like that! We ate and drank hot chocolate and wassail and watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Then it was time for all the Thanksgivingy meal prep and eating kind of stuff.

Friday was another busy day with Dad taking us girls on the annual Black Friday shopathon. It's always a contest to see who can shop the longest - Dad or the girls. In the past, he has always won. I'm not sure who won this year but he texted us first to see if we were almost done so.....I'm thinking that means we won?? Anyhow it was lots of fun like always with tons of shopping and lunch at the Cheesecake Factory and a little snack of cheesecake to end the day.


Saturday was a calm peaceful day where we slept in and ate pie and laid around and ....JUST KIDDING!!!!!!! Really, it was another super busy day of swim practice and piano practice and decorating the tree and house for Christmas and going to the Jekyll Island Christmas Tree lighting ceremony and having our dear friends the Vicents over for dinner. It ended so sweetly with my little sister falling asleep in my lap as we snuggled in a cozy chair and watched Hallmark Christmas movies. Sunday it was time to pack up and head back to Spartanburg!

The holiday season always makes me realize how very, very blessed I am, not just materially (I mean I'm not rich but I have food, a great place to live, awesome clothes to wear, a car to drive - lots of things that people all around the world can only dream about and I just take them for granted) but also with so many wonderful family and friends, and a happy, busy life of pursuing my calling and passions. I love this song by Josh Groban - I feel that it is a great reminder of the kind of thankful attitude I want to have during this season.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9wgeokEsOc

I hope you have a wonderful, blessed Christmas season and find a few moments in the midst of all the crazy hectic bustle of the season to quiet your heart and focus on just how much we all have to be thankful for.

Love,
Tiffany