March 2017

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ahead of the Curve

In May, Jonah was just starting to talk.  He knew maybe 10 words, including kitty-cat, bye-bye, and fish (as in Gold Fish cracker).  Now, just two months later, he's using complete sentences.  At lunch on Thursday, Jonah clearly said, "I'm thirsty."  And yesterday, after connecting two pop-beads together, he exclaimed, "I did it!"

After a little research, I discovered that Jonah is three months ahead in language skills.  Most toddlers begin using complete sentences between 19 and 24 months.  Jonah is only 16 months old.  I also suspect his vocabulary is advanced.  What toddler says thirsty instead of drink, or Disney instead of Mickey?

The doctor warned us that Jonah would probably advance quicker than most.  He will always be striving to catch up to big brother, Elliott.  That certainly appears to be the case, and it's a little sad to see Jonah growing up so quickly.  However, I won't mind at all if he learns how to use the potty ahead of the curve!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Reality TV Convert

When reality TV began, I was not a fan.  I felt I had enough reality in my own life. I watch TV to escape, not to get involved in other people's struggles and challenges.  But then one summer, I got hooked on Top Chef after channel surfing.   It turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. Hungry for more, I then found FoodNetwork and now have a passion for cooking.

As a result of that positive experience, I'm now more open to reality TV in general, but tend to favor competitions.  One of the best reality shows currently on television is The Glee Project.  Realizing the students on the popular network show, Glee, will eventually have to graduate high school, the producers are looking for new talent to keep the show going.  The Glee Project contestants are competing for a seven-episode part.  They are all extremely talented and any one of them would be a great addition to the hit show.

Another favorite is Project Runway because I'm a Tim Gunn fan.  Gunn is such a kind presence in a cut-throat industry and I recommend all his books.  Season nine of Project Runway premiered last night.  As usual, most of the contestants are in their 20s and 30s. The fun is watching them walk the fine line between talent and crazy.  But this season also includes a mature contestant, 57-year-old Bert, who ended up winning the first challenge!  For sure this will be an entertaining season.

Clearly I'm now a reality TV convert.  My journey has been a lesson in staying open to new experiences and not judging too quickly.  I guess it's true.  We're never too old to learn.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Backup Plan In Play

One of the reasons I wanted Emily to find Jonah a daycare was because I feel we need a backup plan.  Little did I know we would need it so soon.  But, since no work can be done on the bathroom next week, while I'm out of town, it's a good thing Jonah will start Brilliant Beginnings on August 8.  Now Emily can still go to all her doctor appointments before school starts.  And I have three more days to get the bathroom finished before Grandma Daycare resumes on August 11.  

At this point, I'm beyond frustrated with how long it's taking to finish the hall bathroom. Last year the larger master bathroom remodel, which included removing and installing walls and more tile work, took three weeks. Since the hall bathroom redo is a much smaller project, it should have been easily finished in at least the same amount of time. But, as of today, the hall bathroom redo will now go into a fourth week. The counter top did not arrive yesterday.  Hopefully, it will be here in time for install tomorrow.  But that means additional days are now needed for the toilet and fixtures installation, electrical completion, mirror mounting, and final inspection.

Nevertheless, I know I'll love the hall bathroom as much as I do the master bathroom when it's finished.  Going through a remodel is like suffering through labor.  Once it's over, the pain is quickly forgotten because the reward is so beautiful.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Updates

It's a beautiful thing to wake up on your own.  Not to an alarm clock; not to construction noise next door. It's how life should be.  Sleep when tired; wake when rested.  And that's how I started my day.  I woke up on my own at 7:00 A.M. fully rested.

Nevertheless, I'm still fighting a cold, which is annoying.  I hate being sick.  It's such a waste of time.  But my biggest concern, this time around, is being congested when I board a plane this Saturday.  I flew with congestion once before, years ago, and it wasn't fun.  It took nearly two days for my ears to clear. At the rate I'm improving, however, I think I'll be fine by the weekend.

This morning I'm waiting for work to resume on the hall bathroom.  As soon as the correct counter top arrives today it'll be installed.  I'm also expecting the tile man to be here all day.  With any luck, the bathroom just might be finished by end-of-day Friday.  Although it'll still need to be painted.  But, after that, I'm ready to take a break from home improvement!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Exercising My Rights

This morning I reached my limit.  After being awaken at 6:00 A.M., again, to the sounds of construction, I called the police department.  Article II of the Ballwin, Missouri Code of Ordinances clearly states construction noise is not permitted between 8:00 P.M. and 7:00 A.M. on week days, and 8:00 P.M. and 8:00 A.M. on weekends.  Within 15 minutes of my call, the police delivered their only warning. A citation will be issued for any further offense.

It's refreshing to have the city working for me instead of against me.  Dealing with Ballwin throughout all of our home improvement projects has been extremely frustrating.  Time is lost waiting for inspectors and often their demands are ridiculous.  But today the city came through for me and I'm looking forward to sleeping until at least 7:00 A.M. tomorrow.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Fighting Illness

It appears I'll be looking forward to weekends while the houses are being built next door.  After a weekend of silence, I was awaken again today by the air gun. And, to make matters worse, I started with congestion and a sore throat last night and didn't sleep well.

I'll be on a steady dose of AirBorne and Zicam this week, fighting to "nip it in the bud."  I have Elliott to thank for sharing.  He was congested when he slept over last week.  I just hope he doesn't pass it to anyone else, especially Jim who's had enough health problems lately.  

While we were in Mexico, it appeared Jim had scratched his back while snorkeling.  But, when we got home, he did some research and discovered it was shingles.  Fortunately, he caught it early enough that the two prescribed medications kept it from escalating to major discomfort.  While Jim was battling shingles, however, he also passed another kidney stone, which caused additional pain.  

I'm just grateful for the nice streak of good health we had before recent maladies. Because, without a doubt, we will be fighting illness on a regular basis, again, once school starts.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

My Oasis

Since the bathroom is on hold until replacement materials arrive Tuesday and Wednesday, I've had time this weekend to do some crafting and should be able to do more tomorrow.  But first I had to reclaim the hobby room.  I moved the bathroom supplies to the boys' room and rehung the hall pictures to get them off the floor.  I was then able to put away craft supplies that had accumulated on the project table.  The end result is I, once again, have the perfect escape.

As I age, I appreciate more and more the benefits of having a hobby.  When I'm paper-crafting, I think of nothing else but the project at hand.  All the other "stuff" in my life drifts away along with the stress.  It's the only time I'm purely "in the moment."

Of course having a dedicated room makes the whole experience even better.  A simple 10' x 13' room has become my oasis.  And I'm extremely grateful.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Taking Full Advantage of Technology

The bathroom project has been going on for two weeks.  By now we should have been within a few days of completion.  But late morning yesterday, everything came to a screeching halt.

After the tile man and general contractor left, I decided to take a look before the plumber and mirror man arrived.  I'm glad I did.  First I discovered the wrong counter top had been installed.  It's supposed to be a matte finish, but we got the glossy version.  And then I noticed the tile work on the wall with all the plumbing was entirely unacceptable.

Our designer is off on Fridays, so I ended up communicating with one of the owners.  After stumbling through an explanation of what was wrong with the tile, it occurred to me I could take a picture with my iPhone and send it to him.  I had never sent a photo with my phone before, and rarely use text messaging.  But I quickly figured it out and the photo expedited everything.  No one needed to come to the house to see the problem.  The plumber was quickly cancelled; the counter top was reordered; and the tile man was added to next week's schedule.

Although I'm more tech-savvy than most of my friends, I still have a lot to learn and don't take full advantage of all my tech tools.  Yesterday was a real eye-opener.  I'm now aware of a whole new way of doing business and I'm not afraid to use it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Gene Pool Surprises

Elliott checking on the tree frog
living in one of their EarthBoxes.
I'm usually only interested in my gene pool when it comes to my health and that of my offspring.  For example, when my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, I immediately researched the odds of me or my children getting the disease. But, recently, I've been reminded that we inherit more than bad or good health.

This past spring, I introduced Emily to the EarthBox and she agreed it would be a good way for Elliott to see how vegetables grow.  Elliott "took the bait" and now has his own EarthBox with watermelon plants.  But he's not the only one who got excited about gardening.

Emily's crop now includes three EarthBoxes filled with vegetable plants and several large pots of herbs.  And, not deterred by heat and bugs, she plans to expand her crop next year with a raised garden bed added to the mix.  Clearly Emily got her paternal grandfather's gardening gene and it was just waiting to reveal itself.  Jim's dad was a professional vegetable farmer.

This whole process has been a revelation to me.  Emily will be 33 in September and this is the first time we've seen her connection to Jim's dad.  It's nice to know that, besides health complications, pleasant connections to our past can also surface at any time.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Itching to Craft

Just as I'm beginning to revisit an old hobby, counted cross stitch, my Martha Stewart Halloween punches arrive in the mail.  I'm on the seasonal auto-ship plan, so I had forgotten they were due.  Then, beginning at 11:00 P.M. Central Time yesterday, one of the home-shopping channels started a 24-hour crafting event.  As a result, once again, counted cross stitch is quickly being abandoned.

I'm now itching to spend hours paper-crafting.  Unfortunately, I'll have to wait. The hobby room is directly across the hall from the bathroom that's being redone.  For days, carpenters, tilers, electricians, and plumbers have been traipsing back and froth from the front door to the bathroom.  There's more than enough traffic in that area of the house without me adding to it.  Plus, a lot of supplies for the remodel are being stored in the hobby room, making it a big mess.

But there's crafting time in my future.  Since this school year I will not be watching Jonah on Mondays and Wednesdays, I should be able to craft at least one morning a week.  That's not nearly enough time for all I want to do, but it's more than I had last year so I'm very excited!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Somethings Never Change

In late winter, I always think about planting more annuals in the spring, which never happens.  I just run out of energy and enthusiasm after the post-winter yard cleanup.  Then mid summer, I think about returning to an old hobby, counted cross stitch, drawn by the fall and Christmas patterns.  Sadly, however, even if I get as far as pulling out my stitching kits, they are quickly abandoned for other interests such as paper crafting, web researching, reading, and cooking.

There just never is enough time for all of my interests.  I used to think there would be when my children were grown and on their own.  But no one warned me about taking care of aging parents or enjoying grandchildren.  And, at the time, no one knew about a world wide web or how enticing it would be.

I now believe, for me, there will never be enough time, so it will always be a matter of choice.  And since it's that time of year, again, sometime this week I'll probably choose to pull out my stitching kits.  Oh well, at least it's nice to know that somethings never change.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

When You Think It Can't Get Worse. . .

In April, we thought mom was on her way out.  She was lethargic, refusing to eat, and losing weight rapidly.  Since she could no longer walk, she was moved to the fourth floor where there's equipment to lift her in and out of bed and her wheelchair.

After several days on the fourth floor, the doctor and staff decided mom no longer needed Ativan for Sun Downers Syndrome.  Ativan controlled mom's anxiety, but also made her extremely drowsy.  As a result, mom appeared to come back from near death.  Her memory didn't improve, but she began eating when being fed and engaging in conversation.  Best of all for dad, mom began smiling and laughing at his jokes again.  As a realist, however, I hated seeing dad so pleased when I knew the "improvement" wouldn't last long.

The descent began a few weeks ago.  While less medication is allowing mom to be more animated, she is also becoming extremely aggressive toward the staff, hitting, biting, kicking, and cursing.  So a couple of weeks ago, the doctor put mom on three doses a day of Depakote.  She's drowsy, again, but not like she was on Ativan.  However, mom's anger is not diminishing.  In my meeting yesterday with several of mom's primary caregivers, I was told she will probably be back on Ativan soon.  At which time, we can expect little-to-no response from her.

So now I have to tell dad that thing's are about to get worse.  He's already sad that mom on Depakote is, once again, drowsy during his visits.  But clearly mom's agitation isn't good for anyone, including herself.

Monday, July 18, 2011

What a Show!

Around 7:30 A.M. this morning, I stepped out into the sun room to check on the construction next door.  I wasn't expecting such a show but, suddenly, I was wide awake.  A crew of shirtless muscular men were lifting and positioning huge pieces of lumber forms as if they were Lincoln Logs.  And then one of them hoisted a five-gallon water cooler above his head so the spigot was just above his mouth for easy drinking.  Seriously?  It was the beginning of the day, so that cooler had to be nearly full.

If I were into extremely muscular men, what's going on next door would be super entertaining.  But, alas, what will be more interesting to me is seeing how quickly a home is built.  What fun to just step outside or look out a window every few hours to see a house take form.  It's like live HGTV.  I'm betting the walls, at minimum, will be in place by the end of the day.

The only thing that would make the show more fun is if I were watching the Jorgensens' new home being built.  Emily, especially, was hoping one of the two new homes could have been theirs.  She would have lived closer to work and the boys would have been in the grade school near grandma without the hassle of a special request.  Plus, it would have been a lot more convenient for Jim and me to help with the boys.  But, in addition to the $500,000+ price tag, the fact that Emily and Mike don't like any of Benton Builders' house designs ended the dream.

So now we're just hoping whoever buys the house to our left will be a good neighbor.  If so, it'll be the first time that happens since we moved in 30 years ago.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Two Movies in One Day

This morning I saw Winnie the Pooh with Emily and Elliott.  Mid-afternoon, I saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 with Jim.  It was a good way to spend a scorching hot summer Sunday.

As might be expected, Winnie the Pooh was a cute movie and perfect for a five-year-old.  It was only an hour long, which was just slightly longer than all the previews before.  I do find it cruel to make young children sit through 20 minutes of commercials before the movie even begins.  For some, by the time the previews are over, they're ready for their first potty break!

I thoroughly enjoyed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2.  As usual, there were differences from the book and many story-lines were omitted, which has always been a disappointment for me with the series' screen adaptations.  But, overall, the film was a good finale.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, however, remains my favorite Harry Potter film.  I've seen it at least a dozen times, often with Elliott, and never tire of it.  

Some summer in the future, I imagine watching the entire Harry Potter series with Elliott.  In fact, it could become a tradition.  And that's the beauty of film -- the end is never the end.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sweet Freedom

This morning, Emily enrolled Jonah in a daycare for two days a week during the school year.  That means I will be watching Jonah only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and will now have Mondays and Wednesdays to myself.  I'm absolutely giddy knowing I will no longer have to run errands, clean house, and take care of the company books on weekends.  I'll still need to get Elliott to and from school everyday, but he's enrolled in full-day Kindergarten.

The Jorgensens and I toured Brilliant Beginnings yesterday afternoon.  It's a daycare/preschool in the same complex as our office.  I immediately saw how their large play rooms are perfect for toddlers.  Without hesitation, Jonah began exploring, playing, and enjoying the toddler-sized furniture.  By the time we got to the third room, which was the tumbling area, Mike and Emily were comfortable leaving Jonah while we toured the rest of the facility.

I was the only one anxious because I'm still learning how different Jonah is from his brother.  If we would have left Elliott at 16 months, he possibly would have been traumatized for life.  Jonah isn't nearly as sensitive.  He's more a go-with-the-flow always-smiling boy.  I just wish he would stop long enough to give cuddles sometimes.  But I have no doubt that he'll eventually learn that hugs and kisses for grandma go a long way.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Thank You J. K. Rowling

Today is the release of the last Harry Potter movie.  I hope to see it sometime this weekend.  When I do, I'll be sure to bring a packet of tissues.  I know from the book that the last installment will be extremely emotional.  It'll probably be better if I don't wear eye make-up.

No one, including J. K. Rowling, could have predicted the phenomenal success of the "boy who lived."  Of course, that statement from the series now has greater meaning.  Simply based on five-year-old Elliott's enjoyment of all things Harry Potter, the boy wizard will live forever.

For years, there's been no doubt that J. K. Rowling is a gifted storyteller and writer.  But I am now seeing her as a brilliant business woman also.  She recently announced the October launch of Pottermore.com.  (You can submit your email address at the site now to stay updated.)  A recent description in Entertainment Weekly promises deeper character development, unpublished pages, and background stories.  As if that wasn't enough to drive traffic, Pottermore.com will be the only place to purchase the books in digital form.  Once again, thank you J. K. Rowling.  My Kindle is shaking in anticipation.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Don't Wake a Sleeping Grandma

Elliott stayed over last night and, for the first time, slept late.  In the past, he always woke by 6:30 A.M.  But, this morning, he slept until 7:45 A.M.  Just another reason why watching a five-year-old is easier than taking care of a baby or toddler.

Unfortunately, however, Jim and I were awaken at 6:30 A.M. by the construction crew next door.  Before we went on vacation last week, Benton Builders dug the hole for one of the two houses they're building.  While we were gone, they poured the foundation walls and, sometime yesterday, a load of lumber was delivered. Since they're starting with the house furthest from ours, the noise hasn't been too bad. That is until today.

This morning it sounded as if they were about to come through our bedroom wall. Not a good way to be roused from a sound sleep.  After taking a look, with several other neighbors, it appears they're now digging the hole for the second house.

I'm all for progress, especially since the house that used to be next door was an eyesore.  But I think there must be a city ordinance against excessive noise before at least 7:00 A.M.  Hopefully, this morning was a unique incidence.  If not, I'll be calling city hall and doubt I'll be the only one.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Afternoon of Legos

Elliott is due to arrive soon for a sleep-over. We're going to spend the afternoon building the Diagon Alley Lego set and, tonight, we'll watch Harry Potter movies.  I'm really looking forward to time alone with Elliott.  And, to be honest, I'm grateful for an excuse to play Legos.  I'm becoming a little addicted.  The only problem is I never want to break them down once they're built!

I recently bought  the Lego Harry Potter book. It's a chronology of all the Harry Potter Lego sets ever made.  Now I wish I would have bought every set as it was released.  One of the biggest Lego frustrations is that the only way to get many of the minifigures is to buy specific sets.  And since the older sets are no longer being made, recent fans are out of luck.  Of course, an older set can sometimes be found on Amazon or Ebay, but it's never less than several hundred dollars.

My advise is, if you ever find a Harry Potter Lego set at a garage sale or flea market, or on clearance, grab it.  I guarantee it'll be one of the best investments you ever make.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bathroom Remodel In Progress

Demo began yesterday on the hall bathroom.  I'm happy to say that this project won't be nearly as disruptive as last year's.  In March 2010, we remodeled the master bathroom, which includes Jim's walk-in closet.  For weeks, all of his clothes were in boxes and on portable clothes racks stored in my hobby room. Needless to say, we were both extremely happy when things got back to normal.

As silly as it sounds, this time around I'm most excited about the new toilet.  It's a bone color that matches the new bathtub.  But that's not what makes it so awesome. It bolts to the floor from the back.  So no more side bolts with covers that I absolutely hate to clean.  Unfortunately, I wasn't aware of this option when we reused the old toilet in the master bathroom.  Now I'm thinking that one needs to be replaced also.

My primary goal for every home improvement project is to achieve lower maintenance.  And that includes the accessories.  I want to be able to clean any room in my house in 15 minutes or less.  Life is too short and I have too many other things I'd much rather do.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Traveler's Diarrhea?

We've been traveling to Mexico once or twice a year since 2000.  In all that time, Jim and I got Traveler's Diarrhea only once.  On that occasion, we made the mistake of eating grapes from the fruit basket left in our room.  Two days later, we were sick with fever, headache, and diarrhea that lasted 24 hours.

Since that episode, on our doctor's recommendation, we now chew 2-3 Bepto Bismol tablets before every meal while on any international trip.  We also only eat cooked or peeled fruits and vegetables.  It's a strategy that's worked well for us for the past 6-7 years.

So last night, I couldn't believe my numerous trips to the bathroom were caused by last week's vacation, especially since Jim is absolutely fine.  But, in the light of day, I have to wonder.  Whatever the cause, I'm just grateful I wasn't going through this during the flight home!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Loving My Kindle

Last week, with my new bifocal sunglasses and Kindle, I read six books and nearly a quarter of a seventh novel while lounging on the beach.  Sadly, before last week, I hadn't read a book since our last trip to Mexico a year ago.  And, at that time, I only finished one novel because that's all I was willing to pack.

With the red protective case I purchased, my Kindle is the size of a 5"x7" hardback barely an inch thick.  It makes the e-reader so easy to carry, fitting effortlessly in a beach or tote bag with no worries.  However, if I forget or decide not to carry it, I can access my library with my iPhone and Kindle app.  When opened, the app syncs to my e-reader so I can start reading where I left off.

I honestly think I'll be reading a lot more now.  The Kindle is so light weight that it's comfortable to read in bed.  And the screen is sharp and easy on the eyes.  Plus I'm finding myself going to the Kindle app whenever I'm waiting in line or eating alone. The Kindle is seriously one of the best tools I've ever purchased.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Travel Nightmare

We got home yesterday at 9:00 P.M. after a week in the Yucatan.  We were supposed to be home by 7:00 P.M., but there was a two-hour flight delay. Unfortunately, that was only a small part of the travel nightmare.  In fact, everything having to do with the flight home was a huge mess, which was especially frustrating after a nice relaxing week.

On average, for the last 20 years, we have taken two trips a year that require air travel.  Nevertheless, we had never before experienced anything like the frustrations we had yesterday.  After 16 annual trips to the Yucatan, I'll now be thinking long and hard about returning next year if we can't find, or afford, a better flight option.