Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Living in the Shadow of Washington DC - Alert System

If you have lived in this area for any length of time, you will know that we have experienced some temporary emergency situations over the past few years.

We live in Montgomery County MD, in North Potomac/the west side of Gaithersburg, and have had 9/11, the "sniper" attack in 2002, a few bad storms, and various lesser impacts on our lives. All of this is intensified by living in a high profile area where our past president warned..when, not if, we will be attacked again.

Well, whether you subscribe to that fear or not, there are also other inconveniences and unforeseeable things that happen in life. And the City of Gaithersburg is taking a proactive approach to warning people through emails and automatic phone text messages of any unusual occurrences.

I signed up for this Alert System a few months ago, and it seems to be working great. So I wanted to share it with you.

So far in the past few months I have gotten alerts about a long Red Line Metro delay due to a suicide on the tracks in DC, a huge traffic problem in Rockville when a train collided with a car on Randolph Rd., an impending violent thunderstorm with hail and fierce winds, and most recently, a rabid bat was found on Watkins Mill Station Rd. in Gaithersburg. So don't freak out when you get a text from the Alert system. It's just there to help you out with current information.

You don't have to be a Gaithersburg resident to sign up for this service. It's easy and just enter your email address and create a password, and then list your phone numbers, email addresses, blackberry, etc, information. To see more details and sign up for this service, click here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

How wonderful to have friends share their flowers with you for no reason.

Doris came by today with a gift of a bouquet so beautiful...all from her garden in Germantown. They are soooo beautiful, the it was just an unexpected gift for no reason.

Friends are so precious, bearing gifts. Or not too. She is usually sunshine whenever she arrives to visit anyway. Today she brought peonies in full bloom, iris in multiple colors...fresh and can't help but smile when you see the bouquet.

Thank you Doris, and also Jorge, who has the skill and know how to plant and create such beauty in their garden

"Flowers always make people better and happier; they are sunshine,
food, and medicine to the soul."
Author: Luther Burbank

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Game That Fights Hunger

So I was going through an old magazine that was passed to me by my mother in law, and found this bit of a gem. Not only is it fun and educational, but it helps feed the hungry of the world through the United Nations Food Program, and is paid for by it's sponsors. I hope you will share this with your family and friends. It's an easy and fun way to help those in need. It's geared toward kids, but seriously, with all the different levels, I think we adults could also learn from this site..I know I did. Take a look.

I will share the link with you from the Good Housekeeping Magazine, December 2008 issue (page 103)..." This online quiz for kids 8 and up launched last year as a vocab builder with a charitable twist: For each correct word match, sponsors donate 20 grains of rice to the United Nations' World Food Program. At press time, FreeRice had raised over 44 billion grains- enough to feed more than two million people for a day."

"With thousands of fans on Facebbok and competitions, countrywide, the site now includes questions on artists, world capitals, and chemistry symbols too. If your kid's not yet a regular, ask her to try her skill - and spark a lifelong habit of learning and giving."

To have some fun, and learn, and give, click here.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hugs, laps, cooking, love and moms. My treasures.

Today is Mother's Day, 2009, and after 2 weeks of rain and cloudy skies and weather, this day was beautiful! Spring has sprung- leaves are on the trees, flowers are blooming. Our son Evan is home from being in South Korea for a year, not without it's tribulations (healthwise) but looking good and fully recovered. We had a nice party here for him and his girlfriend this weekend, a belated Cinco de Mayo celebration. Friends and family attended, which was a real treat for all of us here. Below are photos of my mom, my mother in law, her mother, and my grandmother, and some of the love they shared with our children, through cooking, hugs, laps, stories, and just being there for all of us.

In 2003, I got an email from my sister in law Annie, sharing some sentiments about Mothers and mothering, written by Anna Quindlen, a Pulitzer prize writer and novelist, who also writes for Newsweek, the magazine.

All My Babies Are Gone Now - By Anna Quindlen . It was written by Anna Quindlen. it’s an excerpt from her book Loud and Clear.

"On Being Mom" by Anna Quindlen

"If not for the photographs, I might have a hard time believing they
ever existed. The pensive infant with the swipe of dark bangs and the
black-button eyes of a Raggedy Andy doll. The placid baby with the
yellow ringletsand the high piping voice. The sturdy toddler with the
lower lip that curled into an apostrophe above her chin.

All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in
disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two
taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and
have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of
them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry,
who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors
closed more than I like.

Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food
from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the
bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within
each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.

Everything in all the books I once pored over is finished for me now.
Penelope Leach, T. Berry Brazelton., Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and
sleeping through the night and early childhood education, all grown obsolete.
Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are
battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust
would rise like memories.

What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the
playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations -- what they taught me was
that they couldn't really teach me very much at all. Raising children is
presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice,
until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one
knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another
can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One boy is toilet
trained at 3, his brother at 2. When my first child was born, parents were told to
put baby to bed onhis bellyso that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the
time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research
on sudden infant death syndrome
To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then
soothing.Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research
will follow.

I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton's wonderful
books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of
infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for
an 18-month-old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat
little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he
developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last
year he went to
China. Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can
walk, too.

Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes
were made. They have all been enshrined in the Remember-When-Mom-Did Hall of
Fame. The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language, mine, not
theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for
preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp.
The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her
geography test, and I responded, What did you get wrong? (She insisted
I include that.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald's drive-through speaker and
then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I
include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two
seasons...What was I thinking?
But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while
doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now
that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of
the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing
set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate,
and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they
slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next
thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little
more and the getting it done a little less.

Even today I'm not sure what worked and what didn't, what was me and
what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday
they would become who they were because of what I'd done. Now I suspect they
simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I
back off and let them be.

The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact
and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up
with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone
to excavate my essential humanity. That's what the books never told me. I was
bound and determined to learn from the experts.

It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were." by Anna Quindlan.

One more thing...there isn't a day that goes by when I don't miss my mom, Peggy, who passed away in October 2002, after an extended illness. She was taken from this earth far too soon. I miss her and will always love her. One thing that I am happy about is that during my time (about 9 months) away from my own home in MD, taking care of my mom in home hospice in PA, I was telling my mom how loving my daughter is..that she always says "I love you" before we say goodbye on the phone. Although I ALWAYS knew that my mom loved me, and she knew likewise, those were words we rarely spoke. Then I said "I love you" to her, and it was a bit of an awkward moment for the both of us, but after that we said it to each other often. Thank you Mara for opening that door for us.
I am also grateful that I have a mother in law whom I deeply love....she's always been so kind and good and loving as a mother to me.

To my children, I hope I have always given enough of my time and support to you.

As a tribute to my mom, I would like to share this link to a person of wisdom who I think expresses the sentiments of my own mother.
Red and White Roses Please click the roses link.

And to all the mothers and children of the world, Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Location, location, location!!

That's not just a mantra for real-estate agents.

How you organize and control your environment -- house, workplace, daily movements -- can help or hurt your chances of staying fit and healthy. It's those simple tasks done every day, sometimes without thinking, that can play a role in how often you feel tired, get exercise, come down with a cold or get even sicker.
Eating or coming into contact with a few bacteria usually won't hurt you, but some can make you sick. Poor sleep habits can deprive you of needed shut-eye time. And skipping visual cues to exercise can keep you on the couch.
There's no way to live a completely perfect, germ-free life, acknowledges Dr. Aaron Carroll, director of the Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research at the Indiana University School of Medicine. And there's really no need to.
"Do the things we know work to keep yourself as safe as possible," he says.
Consider these simple steps to improve your health:

Where to place your purse

Bad place: The kitchen counter. Research by germ expert Charles P. Gerba showed up to 10,000 bacteria per square inch on purse bottoms -- and a third he tested were positive for fecal bacteria. You've probably set your own bag on a public restroom floor, right?
Good place: In a drawer, on a chair or off the floor. It's smart to wipe down the outside with disinfectant, too.

Where to put your toothbrush

Bad place: Anywhere near the toilet. Gerba, environmental microbiology professor at the University of Arizona, has spent a lot of time tracking germs in offices and homes. When you flush, aerated toilet water is sprayed up to 5 feet, so it can land on your toothbrush, he says.
Good place: The medicine cabinet or a nearby cupboard. But don't keep it in a closed container, says Gerba, except for short periods when traveling.
A warm, moist container, especially if the toothbrush is wet, will encourage bacterial or fungal growth, says Robert W. Golden, a Purdue University biosafety officer. Better to keep it upright and dry.

Where to read at night

Bad place: In bed with a bright overhead light. The light delays the body's secretion of melatonin, the hormone that signals your body to sleep, says Dr. Ali Artar of the St. Vincent Sleep Disorders Center.
Good place: Anywhere you can use dimmer bedside lighting or one of those clip-on book lights.

Where to set fruits and vegetables before washing

Bad place: Directly in the kitchen sink. Gerba found more fecal bacteria there than on toilet seats, probably from raw meat products.
Good place: In a colander. Be careful of cross-contamination between meat and fresh produce, making sure to wash the cutting boards, says Dr. Carroll. Don't forget to wash your hands before and after handling meat and produce. While alcohol-based solutions work in hospitals, they don't work as well with germs involving food, dirt or real-life situations, he says.

Where to fall asleep at night

Bad place: Buried under a lot of covers (with socks on, to boot). That won't help you doze off. As people go to sleep, their body temperatures need to drop a few degrees to help trigger drowsiness.
Good place: Beneath a lightweight cover. Also try taking a warm shower or bath before bedtime, so the body will start to cool itself naturally, or run a fan, says Dr. Artar of the St. Vincent Sleep Disorders Center.

Where to keep your meds

Bad place: A bathroom medicine cabinet. The excessive heat and the moisture can cause a drug to rapidly lose its effectiveness, says Ron Snow, pharmacist manager at CVS Pharmacy's regional office in Indianapolis.
Good place: A pantry or cabinet that's room temperature and out of direct sunlight, Snow advises. If children are around, keep prescriptions in locked cabinets.

Where to eat lunch

Bad place: Your desk. Women's desks harbor even more bacteria than men's desks, says the University of Arizona's Gerba, because 70 percent store biodegradable food items, such as fruit.
Good place: The cafeteria, or anywhere away from your cubicle. If you must work straight through lunch hour, at least wipe the desktop down (along with germy phones and keyboards) with an antibacterial wipe. Water will just spread around the germs, Gerba says.

Where to go to the restroom

Bad place: The middle stall of a public restroom. It has more bacteria than those on either side, says Gerba's research, likely because more people use it.
Good place: The stalls on either end. No matter what stall you choose, be wary of the floor, sink and water faucets -- the worst carriers of bacteria, he says. Of course, the key here is washing your hands with soap and water afterward.

These tips I received from an old email from a friend...without the source...sorry. They sound pretty true to me though. Good common sense advice.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Rockville Pike is Always Changing, and Always Useful.

If you live in Montgomery County, you for surely have driven down Rockville Pike, for some reason or another. Shopping, entertainment, meeting friends, getting on the Metro, going to college, dinner on the pike, or near it, hospitals, churches, funeral homes, malls, hotels, useful services, car shopping, cemeteries, or just getting to DC and back by not taking the 495 a diversion.

Do you know that plans are in the works to totally change the layout and vibe of Rockville Pike? Many people feel that that street- Rt. 355 is a vehicle nightmare. On the other hand, the road is not so bad in some respects. Lots of lanes, turning lanes, timed lights, pretty well marked, and it leads you to DC versus taking the interstate highways. Plus, it has what you need.

Plans are in the works to make Rockville Pike a totally different destination and community by changing the layout and traffic patterns and supporting a pedestrian friendly plan for new "village" type layouts to encourage a city type feel with many urban friendly amenites..whereby locals have entertainment, shopping, churches, education, culture and more within walking distance. This is in the future, and by local standards, it could take many years. I used to live in Singapore, and things could change any changes take 10-20 years...I have no idea why....but I think it has a lot to do with money and beauracracy, and probably politics.

Although I have to say, if you haven't checked out Rockville Town Center recently, you MUST do so. It has great vibes..great restaurants, many with free entertainment, specialty retail, easy parking- free at friendly fountains, ice skating, movies, ice cream, burgers, upscale international restaurants, lots of locals meeting and greeting and making friends. Urban suburbian.

All this I think is wonderful, and I will detail more on these plans later, but I was fascinated by a story I read recently about the history of Rockville Pike. And I thought I should share it with you, if you are interested. It dates back to the times of the original Indians who inhabited these lands.

So if you are interested in the history of Rockville Pike, which goes back to - well, I will let the historians tell you the tale....

"You don't have to visit the Smithsonian to view exhibits of a younger Maryland. Our past is right in front of us—along a busy stretch of highway once named the Great Road (as well as Rock Creek Road, Braddock’s Road, the rolling road, the road west, and Sinequa Trail), but known today as Rockville Pike.

In its most primitive state almost 10,000 years ago, a part of what is now Rockville Pike began as a Native American trail. Given its proximity to the “Potowmack,” Monocacy, and Patuxent rivers, this north-south path was a convenient and bountiful passageway for tribes such as the Senecas, Piscataways, and Susquehannocks.

The statue of the Madonna of the Trail—one of 12 such monuments lining the National Old Trails Road—was erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1929 and marks the beginning of the frontier trail. (The statue is now located in front of the Wisconsin Avenue post office in downtown Bethesda.)

The history of Rockville Pike