Saturday, February 28, 2009

My own personal "Blue Zone"

We were in South Carolina last week, a result of luck and timing had my 50th birthday and the school's winter break overlap perfectly. While I was recuperating from the 2nd set of nasty germs and week long illnesses passed along by my middle schoolers and the weather was less than balmy, it was very relaxing!

We watched a lot of television, read a lot and I overdosed on nasal spray and Aleve-D. By Wednesday, however, the weather was warming and I was drug free! During our lock-in, we caught an ABC News report on Blue Zones, explaining why people in certain regions live longer than others. Riding horseback at 94? Walking 6 miles a day to deliver hand made tortillas at age 88? Really? Apparently a combination of hard work that you love, a healthy diet and a lot of laughter are the keys to longevity. Cell phones, HD television, internet, stock reports and the like were noticeably absent from the list of requirements.

Mitchell and Spence were at their house in Isle of Palms and had planned to spend the day with us Thursday. Luckily the fog of nasal congestion and over medication had completely cleared at that point and I looked forward to a day of shopping with my good friend, while our men folk went golfing. Not quite "Blue Zone" material, but close.

Unbeknownst to me, Steve had arranged a birthday weekend extravaganza. As Spence and I exited Ann Taylor, on our way to P.F. Chang's to meet the guys for lunch, I notice Mitchell's car rounding the corner. Those of you who have ever passed me on the street know how ironic this is as I have often failed to notice my own husband or children as they drive past me on our own block. Nevertheless, I see the car and there are 2 people in the back seat! Peter and Randi! We're getting closer to feeling "Blue Zonish" now!

It was a perfect birthday weekend! Spa day for the girls, golf for the guys, great meals and conversation. About as close to "Blue Zone" as I can probably get right now. My daughter Dani, however, may be in her own "Blue Zone" already, check out her Eco builings! But it got me thinking about what my own "Blue Zone" might consist of.

Living at the beach, reading, writing, baking and photography. Don't worry, I'll keep a cell phone or computer tucked away so you can let me know when you'll be coming to visit me, after all I'll be there until I'm about 104!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

In the middle of...Middle School

I swear we never leave! Think about it, middle school was hell, but it was good training for adult life.

As a 7th & 8th grade teacher I am reminded daily of the struggle adolescents go through to define themselves; and the people around them that suffer the consequences.

Independence is not the driving force among the 12-13 year-old population, they do not yet see the value in that. Status and fitting in are the keys to survival.

Those possessing the stronger egos strategize, organize and manipulate with war room skill that would make Patton proud. They surround themselves with followers that are unquestioning loyalists whose main function is to reinforce the greatness of their leader.

The others play the roles that will allow them to survive this war and possibly advance up the chain of peer popularity.

There are the proverbial "brown-nosers" who choose a leader to emulate in dress, speech and actions. They become the "inner-circle", confidants to the General. However, their position carries inherent risks. Should they begin to develop their own popularity or express independent views they are often cruelly attacked and ostracized by the General. Peer pariah.

The infantry is made up of many who just want to be liked. They want to sit at a "good" lunch table and be invited to the best parties. They do not realize how much the General and the "inner-circle" need them to survive. Acceptance is valued and they fail to demand the benefits that friendship should provide them in return.

There are the outcasts. The kids that are so socially awkward or immature that they do not even aspire to join the ranks of the game; they know there is not a place for them.

There are a few who stand out simply because they refuse to partake in the game. Independent, thoughtful, respected.

I look back and realize that I have held many of these roles through my life and finally feel that I am at a point where I am "opting out" of the game. Having people like you evolves from liking yourself. How I envy the kids that have this figured out by middle school!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

In the middle of babies, bottles and...UH-OH!

Kristen and Joe are off for a well deserved "grown-ups only" 6 days. We split the babysitting duty with Joe's parents. 3 days each, with them taking the first 3 days.

Reports from the Poulas grandparents were inspiring. The girls were sleeping 12 hours through the night. Good as gold. Perfect angels. Our anticipation grew with every glowing report. The weather forecast was equally inspiring, an unseasonable 60 degree February weekend awaited us. Thoughts of long neighborhood walks and a trip to the National Zoo filled our heads as we drove the 4 hours from NJ to MD.

We arrived about 8PM and after a quick review of schedules and emergency phone numbers, and a report on Tilda's runny (but clear) nose the Poulas GPs hit the road.

All was good for the initial 3 hours of our tour of duty. We got ready for bed around 11PM. That's when the real fun began.

Annie woke up crying with a diaper full of, well let's just say it was unpleasant. Tilda needed to be re-bobbed (pacifier inserted). Well, that really wasn't too bad, we slept through the night. Actually until 2:30ish. Annie and I repeated the disgusting diaper removal routine. Back to sleep. Uh-Oh!

Babies awoke around 7AM, breakfast went by the book. Annie and Tilda ate then played. Tilda napped well although the emission from the nose was changing from clear and runny to green and crusty. Uh-Oh!

Annie played with her toys and pointed out all of the potential problems around the house with a point of the finger and "Uh Oh!" Lint on the floor, overturned bottle, opened cabinet door, "Uh Oh." Dog food spill, outlet uncovered, toilet lid up, "Uh Oh!"

While Tilda napped we offered Annie a snack, one of her favorites, a fruit cup. It went largely untouched, with a shake of her head signaling "no" but she seemed happy and we thought little of it.

Tilda woke up, happy and smiling and we took both girls and Murphy for a long walk around the neighborhood stopping at the pet store and farmers market for a few items.

Weather and girls-beautifully behaved!

This babysitting stuff is nothing!

After the walk it was lunch time, cheese, strawberries and yogurt for Annie. She waved them off, shaking her head no and staring questioningly into my eyes. And that's when it happened. "Uh Oh!"

Stomach virus. Puking. Non-stop for the next 6 hours.

Christina had planned to come spend the afternoon and then have dinner with us, we warned her about the medical alert in the house. She is brave, however, and was not to be deterred.

Annie would sleep for a few miutes, wake up asking for juice (water in Annie speak), take a few tentative sips, scream unconsolably, puke, scream again and fall back to sleep.

Each of us got drenched at least twice, which was problematic since we had packed sparsely. We did laundry between pukes. Uh-Oh!

I swear Tilda was laughing at all of this!

Once Tilda was bathed and down for the night, Steve and Christina went to pick up pizza for us and the prerequisite foods for toddlers in tummy trouble (pedialyte and jello).

The fun continued, they had called the pizza in to the wrong branch of Vace (best pizza ever) and now had to drive an extra 20 minutes to pick up our food. On the way Christina was nabbed by the infamous Chevy Chase, Connecticut Ave. mounted traffic camera, ticket to be delivered later! Uh-Oh!

At 6:45 Annie gave in to the fatigue that follows a day full of no eating and lots of puking. "You ready for bed?" I asked her and she nodded yes. 2 squirts of Tylenol and a pacifier (Bob) in her mouth, she went down without a sound.

This babysitting stuff is exhausting!

The pizza finally arrived, the wine went down easily and we were ready for bed. We fully expected that we would be woken at least once for a booger clean out and once for a puke clean up, which of course would require a full changing of the sheets and pajamas. But no! They slept!

Well mostly. Annie woke about 2:30 crying for juice, I gave her about 5 ounces of water and a redose of Tylenol and she was back asleep. Tilda woke about 4:30. Steve gave her a quick bottle and she went right back too.

They both woke around 7:30 and we started all over again. Annie ate a light breakfast and kept it down so things were looking up. Nose and belly cramps continued throughout the day but we seemed to have weathered the worst of it.

We spent most of day 2 walking around the block and watching Disney Channel.
So much for our plans for the perfect weekend!

This babysitting stuff is unpredictable!

What time tomorrow does that flight land? And...someone remind me to pack extra clothes next time!