Friday, March 25, 2011

Car Seats for Seniors

There was a segment on the news recently concerning new car seat regulations for kids. The latest recommendations assert toddlers should not be turned around, facing forward, until they are two years old. That alarms me. Who knows what mischief a child can get into? The driver won’t have a clue what might be happening.
The second change suggested children continue using booster seats between the ages of 8 and 12 years old or until they are 4 foot 11 inches tall. That started me thinking.
What happens when seniors start to shrink and fall below the 4’11” threshold? Will we need booster seats?
I have a couple of car seats in the garage for my current and future grandkids. I assumed they would be given away when the kids outgrew them. I am having second thoughts. Maybe I should keep one for myself. I doubt my hub will shrink that much; he is about 5 foot 9 or 10 inches tall. I am barely 5 foot 2 inches and foresee the time the top of my head barely scrapes the 5 foot marker on my doctor’s scale.
Will police give out tickets to short seniors? I think the entire state of Florida will have to be placed under protective custody until we get this seat thing figured out. 

How often do you drive Florida roads and wonder if there is anyone behind the wheel? Diminutive men and women barely able to see out the windshield cruise around clocking 30 miles per hour in the passing lane of the expressway, oblivious to the chaos and honking horns around them.
 Will Congress mandate the use of booster seats for seniors in taxis and limousines?   

Will our personal seats have to be inspected? Will we need extra ones so friends can drive with us? Or will we carry around our own personal booster seat, a light-weight, collapsible model with a handsomely designed, monogrammed case?
Now I have one more issue to worry about. 

I have to monitor my descent so I will know when to begin using my elevated seat.
Young, hip marketers will invent catchy advertising slogans like…
Raise the Roof for Grandma
Can you see me now?  
Sit Down and You’re Almost Standing Up!
And the safety message: Boost her or lose her.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Athletic Prowess Rocks!

It has been a week since we completed our cross country skiing/yoga Road Scholar experience. Sitting in my upstairs office/guestroom, looking out at sunny skies, budding trees, 50-ish temperatures, it is surreal that so recently we were surrounded by snow and rustic scenery, still deep in the heart of winter.
There were only nine Road Scholars; three couples and three single women. We were the only first-timers. Several were experienced Craftsbury, Vermont cross country Road Scholars. They enjoyed it enough to return again…and again…
I have never been an athlete. I have been on a mission to lose weight and exercise more. I don’t envision myself running marathons or an anything-k, but I figure every little bit helps. What I do not do - have never done - is spend most of my day in vigorous athletic activity.
That is what we did at Craftsbury. It was exhausting. All that fresh air and exercise absolutely tired me out.  It was not too strenuous, I enjoyed it, but there is no way I can maintain that pace long-term. It seemed the others were in better shape than me or my hub. They talked about their hiking and skiing and all manner of activity-packed trips. I just listened and wondered how many people our age really do this stuff frequently – or at all.
It was not too cold. I do not like the cold. I had my books and magazines in case I opted out of outdoor activity. That is one reason we chose March for our trip. I reasoned the later in the season we went the less chance of subzero temperatures.
I sit here, enjoying the view, comfortable, not necessarily eager to move more muscles than necessary. Is that how we all feel? What is it that makes one person yearn to move and the rest of us satisfied to curl up with a book or computer? I know I should stir, but I cannot say I yearn to move or crave the activity. I enjoy it when I do it, but I am fine without it.
We will participate in other active-oriented programs. It is nice to have everything programmed for you. Right now, however, I feel really guilty. I did not go to the gym this morning and should exercise. It is beautiful outside. I should go outside and take a walk. I have not walked in a long time; it has been a long, cold winter. I feel compelled to move so I do not shrivel up. I am already too short. And I like to eat. I cannot eat and not exercise. I will balloon, feel uncomfortable and be mad at myself.
We enjoyed the cross country skiing and plan on going again next year for at least a long weekend. We had 1 ½ hours of yoga each day. I started taking a yoga class a couple of months ago when I realized the program involved yoga. Never having tried it, I did not want to be a complete neophyte. The instructor concentrated on helping us stretch and work the muscles used in skiing, concentrating on the feet, hips, and shoulders. But we used our entire body and felt it afterwards.
New experiences are the spice of life. That is what keeps us young (at heart, if not in reality), healthy and alive. That is what last week was all about. Life is too short to be lazy, settling for just what we know and what is easy. Keep moving, improving and growing.

Monday, March 14, 2011

It's a...

Son #2 and his wife are pregnant with their first baby. They decided they wanted to know whether or not the baby was a boy or a girl. Last week the momentous time arrived. These kids do things their own way, and this was no exception.
They visited the doctor on Monday morning, returning with the joyful news that the baby was healthy and developing normally. They had a CD and pictures of the sonogram. It is amazing what the wonders of modern technology produce. The baby was moving around. The inexperienced eye (mine) could not tell what it was looking at all the time, but the head, arms and legs were clear, distinct, moving, and real.
The kids decided they wanted both sets of parents with them when they found out the baby’s sex. They had the doctor write boy or girl on a piece of paper. They took the folded piece of paper and gave it to a friend. The friend took it to a bakery and ordered a chocolate cake with chocolate icing and two layers. The icing between the layers would be pink if the baby was a girl. If the baby was a boy there would be blue icing between the layers.
The six of us were not together until Friday night. No one could wait any longer, so before dinner the kids sliced the cake. They slowly moved the cake knife through the chocolate, peeking in to get the first glimpse of pink or blue. After a few seconds of suspense they withdrew the cake slicer with a few specks of icing on it…
It’s a girl!
My daughter-in-law’s parents are ecstatic because their count currently is: grandsons 3, granddaughters 0.
Our count is: grandsons 1, granddaughters 2.
The baby is due in July. Our first priority is a happy, healthy little one. Then we can dress baby in pink.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Compass Points North

For someone who complains about the cold, I have spent a lot of time this winter going to winter rather than fleeing the season. I am currently in Burlington, Vermont, witnessing a record-breaking storm that has dumped – as of 11:00 a.m. this morning – 22 inches of snow on top of an already snow-covered landscape. Hub and I are at our son and daughter-in-law’s for what was supposed to be a quick visit before we drove further north. We are on our way to a cross country ski center for our first Road Scholar/Elderhostel experience.
We arrived in Burlington yesterday afternoon. Our initial plans were for a leisurely Sunday drive. Saturday night our son called to inform us the forecast called for about six inches of snow beginning Sunday afternoon. We decided to leave early Sunday morning and get to Burlington before the snow.
We were on the road by 6:30 a.m. We stopped at a diner for a quick breakfast, made another brief stop at a Thruway rest area and kept driving. It was raining most of the way but it was a light, steady rain. About 50 miles south of Burlington rain turned to snow. It had only recently started so the roads were not yet snow covered. As we pressed on, the black top turned white.
Twenty miles outside of Burlington the snow was lightly falling, the road was plowed and we felt as if the worst had passed. We made a quick stop at a fabulous café for a sandwich and finished our trip.
We awoke this morning to a winter wonderland. It was snowing and everything was completely covered. My son and his wife are Vermonters at heart. We all went out for breakfast, slowly driving downtown. We drove into the parking garage but it was full. City residents can park their cars in the garages free during snowstorms. The policy allows the streets to be cleared.
 Vermonters, and especially Burlington folk, are hearty, young people. The restaurant was busy, full of people in full winter gear enjoying a day off from school and work. My son received an e-mail message to work from home today. The university was closed. I’m sure most businesses were closed. After breakfast we walked across the street to the co-op City Market and wandered around. There were quite a few people there too. A lot had walked, a few drove, and some had skied to the store.
We finally made it back to the house. Hub and I were not going anywhere. We called the ski center and were told the combination of snow and high winds made driving extremely difficult. The police temporarily closed the highway. We settled in for the day.
Tomorrow morning we head north. We will be in snow-covered winter forest lands. Cross country skiing, snowshoeing, a yoga class or two, eating. I am hoping I have enough warm clothes. I figure if it gets too cold (if I get too cold) I can wander inside and retreat with my book, magazines, computer (there is wifi but no cell service way up wherever we will be).
Yesterday morning we left our little house south of here, no precipitation in sight, the buds just beginning to appear on trees and tiny shoots emerging out of the ground. I think I am crazy…

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mummers on Parade: The Show of Shows

I don’t know how many people have ever heard of the Mummers Parade. The phenomenon is a Philadelphia institution. I had never heard of the custom before moving to the Philly area.
The Mummers tradition of welcoming the New Year hails back to ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman traditions. Philadelphia’s Swedish settlers extended their second day of Christmas celebration to include costumes and parades on New Year’s Day. The unorganized celebrations became a focused festival by the 1870’s, and the city’s first official parade was January 1, 1901.
There are three categories of mummers: string bands, the fancy division and fancy brigades, and the comics. The parade goes on for hours. The idea of standing outside in the winter cold all day never appealed to me. My hub went one year and described how much fun it was. There was still no interest on my part in donning layers of clothing to witness the event. But the parade intrigued me.
On a cold Sunday afternoon hub and I ventured over to the Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall to see 16 string bands strut their stuff. It was a relaxing, laid back way to spend three hours. We sat in comfortable seats where we could see the bands clearly. We wore comfy clothes. There were even cup holders on the back of the seats in front of us so we could enjoy our drinks. The arena holds about 12,000. There were probably about 3,000 people at the show. I didn’t even have to wait in line at the ladies room.
These are not professional performers. Band members have conventional lives and jobs. The performances ranged from ones similar to those experienced at our kids’ junior high events to professional-level acts. All of the bands had elaborate costumes that sparkled and must have cost a lot of money. The costumes were the most professional part of the performances.
There was a lot of music and simple choreography. Professional groups not only have a lot of time to practice and perfect their performance, they are hand-picked. The Mummers are volunteers and amateurs who love what they are doing. Professional groups look synchronized in size and appearance. The Mummers were male and female and different sizes, shapes and ages. They were regular people. It was fun to watch, and I am sure the performers have great fun practicing and performing.
Each band had a theme. Some of the ones I remember were a Cuban theme, German beer fest, Ukrainian theme, 1920s speakeasy, pirates, showboat, cowboys, and a carnival theme. The carnival won the best of show at the 2011 New Year’s Parade.
I am glad we stayed through the intermission and saw the last performances. The organizers saved the best for last. The final four bands were the highest rated, winning-est bands in 2011 and previous years.
I guess this is one event I can cross off my bucket list. The Mummers Parade indoor performance, although featuring only a small part of the entire Parade entourage, was enjoyable entertainment. It would be a great place to take the kids or grandkids – the kind of activity hard to find sometimes. Reasonably priced entertainment where kids can sit, stand, talk, walk, view and generally be just kids. Adults have a good time too.