my summer vacation…

Remember that elementary school assignment?

I’m sure we’ve all written at length about our summer vacations once back in the classroom after Labor Day.

As youngsters our summer essays focused upon…us. Where we went and with whom. What fun things we did. Who our playmates were. What new purchases we made. And so on.

Young adults with money in their pockets would more than likely write with the same focus. Where they went for spring break. Florida or Mexico? How many shots of tequila did they down at one sitting? With whom did they spend the night?

Successful professionals continue the trend, promising themselves to go bigger…or go home.

It’s when we start footing the bills for those summer vacations that the focus is off our wants. The constant cha-ching of the cash register has a sobering effect. We find ourselves settling for Residence Inns with their all-you-can-eat buffet breakfasts. Sharing a crowded beach or an overflowing pool is just fine. We make do with cheap souvenirs that eventually get tossed to the back of a drawer.

Having experienced most of these stages…spring breaks were never on my radar…I must admit to liking my most recent summer vacation best of all.

What I did during this my 65th summer vacation

Wanting to spend as much of my vacation outdoors as possible, I convinced family members to gather at a beach near where my husband, daughter, and I were staying. Because we live away from the rest of my husband’s siblings and their families, they very generously acquiesced to my wish.

The Sunday we arrived, eight of my husband’s brothers and sisters as well as nieces, nephews and their children gathered for a huge family potluck. The adults sat around talking as the children frolicked in the ocean nearby. The older ones looking after the youngest. Laughter hung in the air as soft island breezes deflected the heat from the afternoon sun.

As has always been the tradition, the women set about arranging the bountiful assortment of food…salads, meats, breads, fruits, desserts, and beverages. No one went hungry. Just the opposite. Bellies bulged and pant waists had somehow shrunk a few inches.

Lanterns lit the darkness as conversations dwindled. Appetites had been satisfied. Youthful energies expended.

After bidding ALOHA, everyone took their leave making plans to meet again. Same time. Same place.

And so it was that we sat about on two other occasions, enjoying each other’s company long after the sun set.

For the price of a few hearty meals, my life is richer for the memories of this…

…one of my best summer vacations…ever.

………hugmamma.IMG_4517

 

 

 

 

christmas 2011???

Not quite! More like Christmas 2010 is still liking our “digs,” and has decided to stay put a little longer. Truth be told, it’s not like the holiday decor has had a choice. It’s more that I’ve been slow to pack it away. So here come the excuses.

You know I was ill for awhile. I’m better now. Thank you very much. But as a result we weren’t able to entertain friends who wanted to see our decorations. Now that it’s February I think most of them will have to wait until it really is Christmas 2011, except for my good friend Cindy. She’ll be over Friday for lunch. She so enjoys how I intermix antiques, collectibles and holiday items to create a vintage wonderland. Another reason for her visit is to peruse my Venice travel guides. She’s hoping her family will make the trip there sometime this year.

Speaking of Christmas past, and being ill, my husband and daughter were fabulous to prepare the entire holiday meal, from appetizers to dessert. As one who is totally anal about details, I resisted at first. But while the brain might have been up for the challenge, my body dug in its heels and said “No way! Uh, uh. Can’t do it.” So I sat back, more like laid on the sofa, and let husband and daughter “have at it,” as the Brits like to say. Well, they knocked my gourmet socks off…way off! I had chosen the recipes, but they came up with masterpieces. I decided on the spot, that I wasn’t the only cook allowed in my kitchen. Someday I might even relinquish my chef’s hat altogether. Now when’s my hubby retiring? Hmmm…I’ll gain a cook, a gardener, maybe even a housecleaner…

Since this post is a Christmas hodgepodge of sorts, I wanted to include photos of nearby homes which exploded with holiday spirit. Our family’s favorite is the window that displays the fish-net stockinged, woman’s leg, lamp and shade, from the 60s “The Christmas Story.” Until recently it was only a favorite of my husband’s. In years past I’d grimace whenever he spoke of watching it replayed on TV. This year, however, my daughter and me purchased the DVD as a present for him. I MUST be getting older, and mellower, because I did find the movie endearing. It reminded me of the good days. Old folks are always a sucker for reminiscing about the past. I’m no different it seems.

So now you know my Christmas secrets. We’re still celebrating the holidays. Yes, I still light all 5 trees. However, I refrain from flipping the switch on the outdoor lights. The neighbors might think we’re loony. I didn’t cook the annual holiday meal. And I’ve been won over by a movie I use to think was so corny. But you know what? Extending the season just means we continue to have lots of “good will toward men,” and God knows we on earth could use several mountains worth, especially now.

ho, ho, ho…and a merry christmas to all…and to all a good night…hugmamma. (good morning, actually, since it’s 10:19 a.m. where i am.)

more exercise, less sugar

Dragged myself from bed at 6:46 a.m. to prepare for exercise class. Would’ve preferred sleeping in, especially with my propensity for late night blogging. Will find a balance one of these days. But having had a spotty attendance record so far this summer, I feel compelled to get myself  to the gym, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Our instructor gave me a further reason to push myself.

Kristina is in the midst of some remodeling. She told us that she was grateful for her exercise regimen. Needing to replace a steel rod to rehang her garage door, Kristina successfully undertook the task herself. She felt we would be as capable given our attention to exercise. And she’s right. Many a time I’ve thought how easily I lug grocery bags in from the car, usually making it in one trip. Unless allergens are swirling overhead, I can walk my dog up and down hills with minimal huffing and puffing. My chronic lower back pain is on “simmer.” Even though I’ll never eliminate my arthritis, I can manage the pain without drugs.

Incorporated into our exercise regimen, we use 3 lb. and 5 lb. hand weights, ankle weights, flex bands, and poles. Lying on the floor, we do sit ups, push ups, leg lifts, pelvic tilts, and hold our bodies parallel to the floor for up to 32 counts. All of this comes on the heels of aerobic work to get our heart rate up. On Mondays we do lunges across the floor several times, sometimes even doing the length of the gym. On Wednesdays we add a step to the mix. On Fridays we lay on our backs, legs bent on the seat of the chair. From this position, we do all our floor exercises. All of this wasn’t easy at first, but 4 years later, I feel stronger and more in control physically and mentally. 

Exercise and cutting way back on sugar, which causes inflammation, are my “magic bullets.” When I don’t get enough of the first, and get too much of the latter, I ache, badly. As soon as I return to my “weapons” in defense of good health, the pain melts away. It’s taken years of trying different diets, including Weight Watchers 3 times, and The Perricone Prescription, to arrive at my solution. It’s not a quick fix or a perfect one for I stray often, especially on vacations. But I get back to my routine as soon as I can, and my body thanks me for it.

It’s still a struggle to age, but I’ve no choice in the matter so I opt to do it healthily and therefore, gracefully.

wish the same for you…hugmamma.