Saturday, July 27, 2013

Our Family Reunion and We Talk Talk Talk

It's a serious time at the beach
In a few short weeks the Schwartzes we’ll be getting together for our annual reunion.  It’s me, my sister, brother, their spouses, kids, and one grandson.

My mother originally organized this tradition in 1982, and the only time we cancelled was the year she died.  Today her grandkids are grown, and all are scattered about, but everyone tries to make it into New Smyrna for our one week reunion at the beach.

It’s easy.  We all take condos in the same building and run in and out of each others' kitchens like we were next door neighbors during the fifties.   And all we do is talk.   
But we all have our roles.  Since I’m the only one in Florida, I’m the default director, which means I’m a tad more active than the others, who readily commit their souls into vegging in the sun.  We rise around nine or ten--no one’s in a hurry—to help shlep the chairs, towels, boogie boards, and snacks down to the sand where the guys are setting up the cabanas, and then collapse in their chairs like they’d been working since dawn. 

A few grab the boogie boards and head for the water, but most wander in one direction or another for our morning walk on the beach.   These walks are good.  They're great.  We save up the best stories--the most lurid, odd, crazy tales from the past year to entertain the others.  But these are only the initial fare.  We got another walk in the afternoon, and talk at dinner, after dinner, and the walks the next day and the one after that.
My daughter Barb and me

But we don't want to overdo.  By one, the group--about a dozen of us--surrounded by chips, crackers, cookies, fruit, and granola bars, is starving and orders are taken for lunch.  My sister, sister-in-law, and I receive the emphatic requests—either tuna—with egg or without, PB&J—creamy or chunky, an extra hard boiled  egg, or white bread instead of wheat. 

Since nobody writes anything down, and everyone's yelling over the din, we usually screw up.  Good thing somebody trades in the end, and everyone’s happy—or at least satiated for another hour or two.

By three o'clock most of us have had enough humidity and trudge upstairs for our showers and necessary naps.  The sun sure knocks us out, we say, aware of the deadline looming ahead.  In three or four hours we have to get dressed and go for dinner.  My mother used to make these big dinners, but nobody volunteers to cook.  "Yeah, the meals were great," we agree, climbing into our cars, hoping they'll hold our reservations a few more minutes.  
Eating for a change

After a huge feast  somewhere, we complain we're too full as we head back to the condo with the most seating and the largest flat screen TV.   There we talk and play Wii.  Yes, we're getting tired, but it's a major effort to get up  and go to bed.   The younger ones are still going strong, but it’s the oldies, the ones who remember where they were when JFK got shot, who are ready to fold. 
“So what happened with your friend’s divorce?” I ask my sister-in-law.    
“Sorry.  Saving it for the beach walk tomorrow.”

The look of disappointment crosses all of our faces, but a good story’s to be savored, and we all know we'll have to wait.
Wonder what happened? I think, heading to the bed.  Another beach walk, another day in the sun.  Nothing like our family reunions.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Taking Care of Baby? Better Snap to It

Hudson in his car seat waiting for a ride

We just got home from Atlanta after babysitting Hudson, our toddler grandson while our daughter and son-in-law slipped away to London last week.

Yep, it was our pleasure, and we were on the job like sergeants patrolling their troops, except we only had one to watch, and that was plenty.  We  were constantly feeding, changing, swimming, and running to stores to get him tired out before his nap—his and ours. 
But that was the easy part.   

It was the baby equipment that got us—the high chair, car seat, stroller, and crib—regular things that turned two adults into brawling alley cats suddenly frantic to attach the necessary straps, snaps, and buckles to save our grandson from getting injured, or worse.
a stroller ready to fold up again
But I soon discovered that even a baby can do it.   Hudson, working silently, easily unraveled the arm straps of his car seat, and I warned him not to do it again.   On second thought, I should’ve asked him to attach his own stuff together.  I fitted the straps under his arms and buckled the sides, but it was the legs that drove us nuts.  We just couldn’t get them to click.
Couldn't do it, as George W used to say, but I was determined to succeed.    

The moment I put Hudson down for the night, I hurried into the garage.  Practice time, I thought.  Any idiot can snap a stupid buckle--any moron on earth.  Taking a deep breath, I pressed down on the belt like I was obliterating an angry cockroach hidden beneath a towel, and lo and behold…

Bring on the baby! I wanted to shout, ready to wake him up and take him for a ride.

One down, I thought, staring at Hudson’s crib the next afternoon.  The sheet could definitely use changing, and it certainly looked easy, easy as baking a pie.  (Okay, I’ve never baked a pie before).  But the sheet was nothing, just a flat piece of fabric attached to ten elastic straps with snaps on each of its ends.   All I had to do was pull them apart and Wha-La!
crib sheet
Except…   You get the drift.   I couldn’t get those damn things to separate and finally gave up when my fingers burned like I’d been playing with a pack of trick matches.

I made my way out of his room but still couldn't figure out how come it’s so easy for parents and impossible for us.   Maybe those baby companies could make a few adjustments for the millions of baby boomers who are no longer nimble—like producing wider snaps and buckles, and maybe lubricants on the high chairs so the trays can slide into place.    

Oh, and how  about a number to call--a working hotline--where a soothing voice picks up on the other end, hopefully a young mother, who calms the old folks down and runs to the rescue.

It's a small request.  That's all I ask.