Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pleasant Distractions

The past few days it has been difficult sticking to my exercise regime. My daughter has been here, visiting from the opposite coast with three of my grandchildren. Their four cousins, who live nearby me, are besotted with the visitors and have spent most of the past four days and some nights here too. We had a great July 4th cook-out, with just the immediate family (18 people including the live-in mothers of my sons-in laws, Alicia and Jenny, the super sweet and competent au'pair. ) And then on July 5 my daughters organized a retirement party for me with fifty members of my extended family and a few of my dearest friends.

This huge extended family is a surprise. My father was an orphan and for most of his life had no older, living relatives. I had four first cousins on my mother's side, but they lived far away. I yearned for the extended families of the neighboring farm kids, but when I finally did get a chance to visit my cousin he grossed me out by throwing green mashed potatoes made by his schizophrenic mother or possibly my eccentric uncle, who was the first person I ever knew who cooked for his dog. My dad, and each of the succeeding generations, bucked the trend of declining birth-rates in industrialized countries, by marrying early and often, and creating large numbers of children with each union.

I do love the intimate chaos of my current family parties -- as long as they don't last too long. Inevitably there is a sour note, because I just can't keep from going crazy over my grandchildren and irritating my husband and sons-in-laws (and possibly others who are too polite to say so)by failing to set limits and catering to their every wish. I was a goner the first time I laid eyes on my oldest grandson. When he was born, my two auntie daughters and I kept searching for the right way to describe him. We tied "really cute," "amazingly cute," and "unbelievably cute," but these failed to describe his appeal, which was so intense it caused me to have a physical heartache. We finally hit on "unbearably cute." And now all seven are like this. It's just too much for me to take in at times.

So between three meals a day for this brood, two parties, and innumerable cups of juice, ice-cream treats, and band aids, it was hard to exercise. Stretching and floor exercises were out because they literally ran circles around me tripping on my limbs and using my protruding stomach as a trampoline. They also kept letting our two black labs into the room, so I was also covered with dog saliva.

My salvation was the swimming pool where, under the supervision of Jenny, my daughter and my husband, I was interrupted only ten times or so, as I did my water walking, lap swimming, and water stretching. I also counted as walking blocks trips to the super market and the natural history museum. So everyday except my my off days (Saturday and Sunday) I did my required four blocks. This might have made me feel virtuous were it not for the two cupcakes, three slices of wonderful retirement cake (a gorgeous almond cake with raspberry filling from the best cake bakery in town), and five peanut butter cookies that I have consumed over the past four days. If I am not in a diabetic coma tomorrow, I must eat very lightly and go to the track.

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