May 2018

May 2018

Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Hubby and I will be having our usual quiet New Year's Eve.  We already celebrated the end of the year with a steak dinner last Saturday, and live theatre yesterday.  We're now both ready to start eating more normally, which is much healthier than how we've been eating the last couple of weeks.

In fact, my diet has been a mess since I contracted that bacterial infection four weeks ago.  But, this morning, I took my last antibiotic pill and finally feel my normal, again.  It's time to get organized in the kitchen, making certain there are always plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

I'm also mentally preparing myself for more daily exercise.  We leave for Paris in just 10 weeks and know, from our first trip there five years ago, that we'll want to do a lot of walking.  I'd been enjoying my neighborhood walks, but now it's too cold.  And today it's snowing.  I'm leaning toward becoming one of those mall walkers.  It's either that or walk in circles at the local health center.

Whatever I decide, I want to get hubby involved.  His new job is much less physical than what he was used to when we owned a pest control business.  Now that we have less stress and more freedom, I especially want to keep us as healthy as possible so we can fully enjoy our new lifestyle.

Those are just a few things on my "to-do" list for 2013.  But, top of the list, is a determination to not get sick, again, this winter season!

Happy New Year, friends.  And may 2013 be full of pleasant surprises for all of us.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

More Fun Than Wicked

For years I've wanted to see the musical Wicked.  So I was thrilled to get tickets for today's matinee at the St. Louis Fox Theatre as a Christmas present.

Although I wished I had remembered to bring binoculars, I thoroughly enjoyed the nearly three-hour show.  Every performer did a great job, but I was most impressed with the set design.  We had center seats and many times throughout the production I was struck by how well a scene was staged.

If you don't know the storyline, I won't spoil it for you.  I'll just say it was cleverer than I imagined and I'll never view The Wizard of Oz the same again!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Our New Fireplace

I thought I'd finally show you our new fireplace. The install took place while I was sick.  And, thankfully, it was quick and painless.

Before adding the electric insert, we hadn't used our fireplace in years.  It was inefficient and messy.  Since the install, we've used it everyday.  Not only do the artificial flames give life to a big black hole, the heater warms the family room approximately five degrees!

Converting our wood-burning fireplace to electric was definitely a good idea for us.  It was well worth the months of research.

(By the way, we didn't go with the more common gas insert because our home is all electric.)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Howdy Doody Christmas

Howdy Doody
(Over 60 years old.)
As long as I can remember, my parents always hung a cardboard Howdy Doody on their Christmas tree.  I honestly don't know why, but of all their possessions, it was the only thing I wanted when dad asked. Unfortunately, however, dad had already given it to my brother, who had no idea how much I wanted it, too.

I guess Kevin felt badly about me not having Howdy Doody, also, so last night he surprised me with a special Christmas present.  He had found and purchased the exact same Howdy Doody on ebay!

It's been a long time since I received a completely unexpected Christmas gift.  Howdy Doody and my brother have made Christmas 2012 one to remember.  Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

In Training

As if the holidays weren't stressful enough, Jonah started potting training last Friday.  He's doing fantastic!  Nevertheless, as you can see from this photo, he's also finding it a bit exhausting.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy for Family

This afternoon I picked up my oldest grandson, Elliott, from school, so we could meet his Uncle Dan and Aunt Ann at the airport.  They flew in from Long Island, NY, to share Christmas with the family.

I'm so happy my son and daughter-in-law are joining us for Christmas, again.  Last year was the first time Daniel and Ann were able to be with us, having moved from South Korea to New York in October 2011.  Christmas is just so much better when the entire family can be together.

I will truly treasure the next four days.  And, thankfully, I'm beginning to feel much better.  I saw the doctor, again, this morning.  He decided I needed a stronger antibiotic as well as a prescription anti-inflammatory to tackle what's going on with my eustachian tube.  I've had one dose of each and finally feel it's possible I'll be completely over this awful bacterial infection in the near future. It's a Christmas miracle!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Test of Patience

I feel as if I'm moving in slow motion.  My energy level is not back to my normal and my ear is still blocked.  Although, yesterday, I had some crackling, so I'm a bit more hopeful now that my hearing will return eventually.

However, I suppose I still got a lot done today.  After my therapeutic massage, I hit the grocery store and mailed packages at the post office.  I then roasted chicken; baked and froze gingerbread cookies to decorate with the grandsons over the weekend; and started setting up the dining room for Christmas Eve dinner, which means I de-wrinkled the tablecloth and ironed the napkins.

That's probably a full day for a lot of people, but I'm used to being much more active.  This whole ordeal is certainly a test of my patience.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Let the Holiday Food Prep Begin!

I'm finally feeling better although my head still feels like it's stuffed with cotton.  I also still can't hear much out of my right ear, but it does seem like it's getting a tiny bit better each day.  Being me, however, I'm a little concerned about possible permanent ear damage.  The doctor never suggested such a thing, but I'll be extremely relieved when my hearing is back to my normal.

Cranberry Noels
My hubby has been great through my many days of mostly being in bed or on the couch.  Over the weekend, for example, he did a lot of holiday cleaning while I rested.

This afternoon, however, I finally was able to do some holiday food prep.  I made a batch of cookie dough, which is now in the freezer ready for baking as needed.  I prepared my favorite cookie, Martha Stewart's Cranberry Noels.  You can find the recipe at:

They're super simple to make, actually too simple.  It would be so easy to whip up a batch any time of the year.  But, so far, I've only indulged at Christmas.  Can hardly wait to bake them!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Not The Flu

Last night my right ear started hurting and I couldn't hear out of it.  So this morning I camped out at the doctor's office so I could see someone as soon as possible.  I now have a severe ear infection, possibly the worse one the doctor has ever seen.  Between the infection and laryngitis, the doctor feels I never had the flu.  Instead, I had one heck of a bacterial infection.

And now I know how I got so sick.  Jonah had a bacterial infection two weeks ago.  He ran a high temperature and ended up with a double ear infection.  A few days later, Elliott got it.  And a few days after that, grandma went down.

Ironically, I'm the germaphobe of the family, always pushing the sanitizer.  But I guess no amount of sanitizer can shield a grandma who loves to give hugs and kisses.

Today I start on a 10-day antibiotic.  The doctor also prescribed an ear drop to numb the pain. Historically, within 24 hours of starting an antibiotic, I'm much better.  I'm hoping that's the case this time, because I'm also a grandma who loves to make Christmas special.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New Flu Symptom

And now I have laryngitis.  I had no idea until hubby came home last night.  I tried to talk and nothing came out.  Literally nothing.

I've had laryngitis before, but never to this extend.  But it confirms my self-diagnosis of flu. According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine,  "The most common form of laryngitis is an infection caused by a virus, such as cold or flu viruses."  Recommended treatment is resting the voice and taking decongestants and painkillers, which is all I'm doing today.

But beyond not being able to talk, I'm much better, just low energy and minor sore throat.  So I'm hopeful I'll be well enough by Thursday to watch my two-year-old grandson all day.  I just hope I have at least a little voice by then.  If not, for sure it'll be a challenging and interesting day.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Flu Treatment and Prevention

This morning I woke up still not feeling well.  I'm definitely getting better, but not as quickly as I had hoped.  My main concern is not being able to watch my grandsons, which means my daughter has to solicit help.  Typically that means contacting several people before finding someone who's available to watch the boys.  She was able to cover Monday and Tuesday, so I really want to be better by Wednesday.

I called the doctor's office this morning.  Although it would have been better to start within 48 hours, the doctor prescribed Tamiflu.  He also prescribed it for hubby in the hopes Jim will not get the flu, too.  At least not this time.

The nurse told me they're currently seeing a lot of flu cases, which is alarming since the season just began.  I suppose we have to be grateful for flu shots.  Just imagine the epidemic that would occur with no prevention!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Self-Diagnosis – Flu

It started yesterday afternoon.  By late last night, I was miserable.  I honestly don't remember the last time I felt so bad.  My entire body ached; I was chilled; and I had a horrific headache and sore throat.  I believe I have the flu.

Hubby talked to the pharmacist this morning, brought home some medicine, and I'm feeling much better.  My body no longer aches, the headache is finally gone, and my throat is only slightly sore. Now I'm mostly just extremely tired and have been sleeping most of the day.

I have no idea where this came from.  The grandsons were sick last week, but it was sinus and eye infections.  I read people are contagious for one day before flu symptoms hit and up to five days later.  Needless to say, I'll be housebound for a few more days.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The "Why" Phase

Sometime within the last couple of weeks, Jonah entered the "why" phase.  No matter what a person says, his response is "why?"  It's enough to drive a person crazy!  It reminds me of mom in the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease when she would ask the same question over, and over, and over. . .  During that phase, I also just wanted to scream.

By late last Tuesday afternoon, I simply told Jonah, "I'm not playing the 'why' game anymore." His response, surprisingly, was not "why?"  Instead he said, "I think you should play the 'why' game, grandma.  It's a lot of fun."  Just another example of Jonah going through a typical toddler phase yet adding his own above-average touch :)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Food For Thought

Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could.  Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can.  Tomorrow is a new day.  You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Paris, Here We Come!

Last night I finally booked our second trip to Paris for March 2013. Our first visit to the City of Light was in February 2008 in celebration of our 35 wedding anniversary.  We were there six nights.  For our second visit, we're staying nine nights, so should be able to take a slower pace.

Ideally, the weather will be a little warmer and we can enjoy long breaks at the sidewalk cafes or in the city's many parks.  But, with a longer stay, we also want to take a few day trips.  We definitely want to see Versailles.  And I'm researching Normandy and Mont Saint-Michel.

Most of all, however, we're looking forward to spending time with our nephew who's been studying in Paris since June 2012.  And I'm thinking his ability to speak French will be helpful, especially at the outdoor markets.

Paris is a beautiful city and I'm feeling very lucky to be able to visit her, again.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Check and Check

Today I finally did holiday prep that didn't include decorating a tree.  I finished decorating the dining room and front porch, and wrapped all the presents I've bought so far.  We're scaling back on the gift giving this year, but there's still a lot of wrapping to do with eight people in our immediate family.

Every year, my goal is to finish all the gift buying by Thanksgiving.  That didn't happen this year, but I'm close.  In fact, if I'm happy with the online orders I placed this week when they arrive, I'll be done.

I'm now "itchin'" to do holiday paper-crafting.  I have several projects in mind and am eager to get started.  But first I need to finish cleaning up the hobby room.  Getting all the Christmas gifts out and wrapped was a good start.

I'm feeling extremely accomplished this afternoon.  I just love checking items off a "To-Do" list!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Never Say Never

It's tough to get detailed
shots of a Christmas tree,
but at least you can see
how thick it is with lights.
If you read or reread yesterday's post, you'll find I didn't say I would never get a big tree, again.  I've lived long enough to know better than to ever use 'never' or 'always'.

Last night, hubby brought home the Light Keeper Pro.  The good news is it works.  The bad news is it confirmed there's a wiring problem with our little five-foot tree, which is why the bottom lights no longer work.  So, after dinner, we went shopping for a new Christmas tree for the second year in a row.
There used to be a wet bar
where the tree sits.  We ripped
it out years ago.

We were both attracted to the 7.5-foot Martha Stewart Paley tree at Home Depot.  It's possibly the biggest tree we've every had, but it fits our Christmas tree spot and looks very nice.  And, after replacing two smaller trees in two years, I think we were both ready to try something new.

I spent most of today dressing the new tree and cleaning up afterward.  But I was home for the second day this week, anyway, taking care of my sick 6-year-old grandson.

However, I'm now more than ready to move on to a new project. But, without a doubt, I'll be praying daily from now through the holidays that our newest tree has no lighting problems!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas Tree Frustration

Sometime yesterday afternoon, the bottom string of lights on our pre-lit tree went out.  To say I'm annoyed is an understatement. Last year, after fully decorating our 5-year-old tree, the lights went out and we ended up having to buy a new tree.  That means I dressed, undressed, and dressed a Christmas tree all in one week.  Not my idea of fun and something I definitely don't want to do, again, this year.

When hubby got home, we replaced fuses and several bulbs and all the lights worked again, for a few minutes.  I finally just went to bed thoroughly disgusted.  But, since I couldn't fall asleep right away, I did some web research and found the Light Keeper Pro. The reviews on Amazon are fantastic and, for just $20, we figure it's worth a try.

Because our cat is now living in the basement (another story), I had thought about getting a taller tree this year.  But then I remembered how much easier it is to decorate a five-foot tree.  Now I'm even more sold on smaller trees.  If I was facing the possibility of having to undress and dress an eight-footer all within a week, I would be in tears right now!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Food Plan

Today was a disturbing and enlightening day.  It began with the freezer in the refrigerator downstairs and ended with the kitchen pantry.  I'm embarrassed to say I uncovered three pounds of ground beef, a whole turkey, three pounds of brown sugar, and two boxes of cake mix that had to be trashed.  The meat and cake mix were well past their expire dates, and the brown sugar was rock solid.

From this day forward, I'm going to stop stockpiling food.  I don't care how tempting the sale, it obviously doesn't save money if I end up throwing food away.  Plus, without excess inventory, I'll be able to more easily see what I have.  With this new commitment, I'm feeling much better.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Movie Review

Bravo, Ben Affleck!
This afternoon we saw Affleck's latest film, Argo, based on a true story. Affleck directed and played the lead character.  He still may be just an average actor, but Affleck has definitely become an accomplished director, proving himself with Town, Gone Baby Gone, and now Argo.

Argo was excellent and the third film in a row I highly recommend, along with Skyfall and Lincoln.  Best of all, none included gory bloody scenes or unnecessary profanity.  And each gave me what I want most from a film, a two-to-three hour escape from reality.

Next up, Life of Pi, which I've been eagerly waiting to see on the big screen since reading the book several years ago.  Entertainment Weekly gives it 4.5 stars out of five, so my hopes are high that our streak will continue!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Remembering Thanksgiving 2012

Yesterday was possibly the best Thanksgiving I've ever had.  I refused to get stressed about anything, especially the food.  Trimming the menu down to just six items really helped.  Every dish turned out perfect, including the gravy, which is always my biggest concern.

I still find it sad that Thanksgiving gets less attention every year.  So, before I'm fully consumed with Christmas preparations, here are some of my favorite memories from yesterday.

A tradition Elliott started two years ago, building the entire
Lego Advent Calendar on Thanksgiving day.
Jonah helping grandma make whipped cream
for the pumpkin pies.
Jonah talking to Uncle Dan and Aunt Ann,
using FaceTime on Grandma's phone.
The perfect end to a perfect Thanksgiving,
watching monster truck videos with Papa.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Our Cub Scout

Love that face!
Elliott recently completed the Bobcat Trail as the first step on his Cub Scouting adventure.  Making it official, he received the Bobcat Badge at last Friday's ceremony.

Elliott absolutely loves everything about scouting, especially the uniform!  It's wonderful seeing his excitement and passion about something that doesn't involve a screen.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"Bunches and Bunches!"

"How much does grandma love you?"

"Bunches and bunches!"

I taught Elliott the above when he was around three and a half.  Because Jonah is an above-average 32-month-old, however, I decided to see if he would catch on sooner. 

So, last Tuesday, I started teaching Jonah the "grandma code."  As I fully expected, he caught on quickly.  When I put Jonah down for his nap today, he responded to, "How much does grandma love you?" with a clear "Bunches and bunches!"  It absolutely warmed my heart.  I love being a grandma!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Simplified

I'm simplifying Thanksgiving this year.  We're having turkey breast, dressing with butternut squash and leeks, cranberry conserve, store-bought dinner rolls, French string beans, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream.  I've eliminated pumpkin soup, creamed corn, and mashed potatoes.  And I've replaced a whole turkey with an 8-pound turkey breast, which will be much easier to handle and quicker to cook.

I started this year determined to not take on more than I could easily handle.  That turned out to be a good goal, because things out of my control have tested my sanity and patience all year long!

But I am in control of our Thanksgiving meal and see no reason to overdo it.  This year, it just will be my daughter's family of four, which includes a six-year-old and two-year-old, and hubby and me.  My daughter's on a special diet and her husband's a picky eater. Neither of them are big eaters.  And the boys will only be interested in the dinner rolls and pie.

While this year's menu will be smaller, however, I have no doubt the food will be good and no one will leave hungry.  Best of all, cleanup will be a snap!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Movie Review

Speilberg does it again.  Lincoln is an excellent movie with several outstanding performances.

In an interview, Speilberg said he would not have made Lincoln without Daniel Day-Lewis.  I completely understand.  I can't think of any other seasoned actor who could have done the job Day-Lewis did.

Other notable performances were Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln and James Spader as W. N. Bilbo.  There were several scenes where Field stole the show.  Hard to believe she once played a flying nun!

Spader also keeps improving with age.  It's probably maturity and experience, but I enjoy Spader more since he gained weight.  Reminds me of Philip Seymour Hoffman.  It seems Spader and Hoffman both have done their best work at their heaviest.

Before last weekend, we hadn't been to the movie theater in many months.  After Skyfall last weekend and Lincoln today, however, I'm hooked again.  Next up, Argo.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Room by Room

I spent most of yesterday and this morning cleaning out the home office.  It started with moving all the business 2012 papers into a banker's box.  From there, one thing quickly led to another and, before I knew it, I had shredded enough papers to fill five tall kitchen trash bags!

I still have a few files to go through, but they'll have to wait until after the holidays.  But the home office is now clutter free and looks so nice.

This afternoon I'm cleaning and setting up the dining room for Thanksgiving.  I never look forward to cleaning, but, once I get started, I do enjoy the adrenaline rush!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Preparing for Thanksgiving

I just can't wrap my brain around the fact Thanksgiving is next week.  I know we've been busy, but I think the main problem is there's only three weeks between Halloween and Thanksgiving this year.  That tight schedule on top of retailers extending the Christmas shopping season into most of November has really given Thanksgiving the "short end of the stick" this year.

But today I found out dad is having Thanksgiving with my brother's family this year.  That takes the stress of preparing and serving our meal down a notch.  I now only have to work with two schedules, ours and my daughter's.

In Jim's new position with St. Louis County Parks, he'll be driving the County float in the Ameren Missouri Thanksgiving Parade in downtown St. Louis this year.  The grandsons, of course, are extremely excited about this new addition to our holiday.  The parade starts at 8:45 A.M. and I have no idea when it's over.  But I feel certain Jonah will be ready for a nap afterward.

Therefore, instead of our regular 1:00 P.M. Thanksgiving meal, I think this year we're looking at 3:00 P.M.  But, since I cook everything the day before, I only need an hour's notice to put the meal on the table, so I can be flexible.

But I do need to finalize the menu and get the shopping done before next Tuesday.  Time to watch a lot of FoodNetwork to get me in the mood!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Movie Review

Today we saw the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall.  In my opinion, it's the best 007 movie to date.

Because hubby's a big James Bond fan, I've sat through many of the films in the franchise more than once.  And, each time, the only thing I really enjoy is seeing the location.

Skyfall is different.  It still includes several ridiculous stunts and scenarios typical of 007 movies.  But what sets it apart is how it shows Bond as more human than superhuman.  In Skyfall, we finally find out how Bond came to be and get a peek at his life before becoming a secret agent.

Overall, Skyfall is good entertainment.  And getting to watch Daniel Craig for 2.5 hours is just "icing on the cake!"

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Let the Holidays Begin!

Today we took our oldest grandson, Elliott, to the Peabody Opera House to see the Rockettes's Christmas Spectacular.  It was a rare treat.  I'm not aware the Rockettes, as we know them, have ever included St. Louis on any of their tours.  Even though, according to Wikipedia, the group was founded in St. Louis!

The last time I saw the Rockettes was in 1969 during my high school senior trip to New York City. However, I didn't really see them then because I fell asleep.  It was a fast-paced packed trip and I was a teenager who needed a lot of sleep.  I, along with many others, took advantage of the dark theater for a much needed nap.

But today I enjoyed the Rockettes's entire performance with eyes wide open. Professional dancers always amaze me, and each of the many different sets were, in a word, spectacular.  It was a great performance!

Elliott outside the St. Louis Peabody Opera House.

(FYI, more images have been added to DGPaperdesigns.)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Will It Ever End?

Nearly two months ago, the city started installing sidewalks on our side of the street. Then, three weeks ago, they began the process of repaving our street.  The sidewalk work, which took place during the day, is nearly finished.  Primarily, all that's left is landscape repair.  But, honestly, it's probably too late in the year to lay sod.

The street work took place between 8:00 P.M. and 5:00 A.M.  The first step was shaving four inches off the existing pavement.  The sound was horrendous and, needless to say, a lot of sleep was lost.  This week, the new asphalt was poured and smoothed.  Again, this all took place late at night.  But this step was not only noisy, it shook the entire house!

It appears to me the only thing left to do is paint a center line.  And I fully expect that will also happen late at night.  I am beyond sick of it all and want my quiet neighborhood back.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Land of the Selfish and Clueless

For me, yesterday's election result confirmed that at least fifty percent of Americans are selfish and clueless.  Help me. . .take care of me. . .blah, blah, blah.  And, sadly, I encounter that mentality within my own family on a daily basis.

Today I'm feeling sad for my children and grandchildren.  Future generations will pay a hefty price for what unfolds during the next four years.  America will change drastically, and not for the better.

My children, however, should be feeling grateful we sold the business before B.O. increases the capital gains tax.  I suppose I should feel good about that, too.  But, for at least today, I just can't get past feeling extremely sad.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I Voted!

Voting in the United States is still so frustrating.  I arrived at our poll at 8:30 A.M. and found no line. That is until I moved to the touch-screen area where I joined an extremely slow-moving queue.  And that's when I noticed there were nine paper stations and only three touch-screen stations.  But that was only part of the problem.

It boggles the mind that most people show up at the polls not familiar with the ballot.  If everyone would simply familiarize themselves beforehand, we all could vote in relatively no time at all.

I stood in line for 20 minutes and, during that time, touch-screen voters were taking an average of five full minutes to cast their votes.  But, because I reviewed the online sample ballot over the weekend, it took me barely a minute.

It's so ridiculous that, in the future, I'll seriously consider submitting an absentee ballot well in advance of election day.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hello Long Nights!

I know I'm in the minority, but I love it when it starts to get dark around 5:00 P.M.  To me, it means more cozy evening time in my home, and a good excuse to put on pajamas by 7:00 P.M.

Before motherhood, I was always a night person.  But I haven't been able to stay up until the early morning hours for years.   So, I love that, this time of year, I can get my long nights, again, between 5:00 P.M. and 11:00 P.M.

Whatever the reason, next to fall, this is one of my favorite times of year and I'm glad it's back :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

All's Well That Ends Well

Yesterday we signed the papers and today the money was wired to our checking account. After nearly 25 years, we are no longer small business owners.

I've been happy about the decision from the beginning, but I did experience a little anxiety just before the meeting at our lawyer's office yesterday afternoon.  It was similar to how I felt when each of my children went off to college, and when my son moved to South Korea.  It makes perfect sense.  After all, we have been growing a small business for the past 2.5 decades.  And, as with our children, we are proud of our success.

But, today, I'm feeling giddily happy.  Seeing the money in our account this morning was the turning point.  For the first time in our lives, retirement within just a few years is possible.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New York Fun

Elliott got a first-hand look at grandma's
favorite NYC building, Grand Central Terminal.

Last weekend, my daughter and I took my 6-year-old grandson to New York City.  It was his first trip to the Big Apple.  Elliott is a great traveler, flexible and inquisitive.  He enjoyed the city, but mostly liked seeing his aunt and uncle who live on Long Island.  

It was a good trip.  Hurricane Sandy didn't mess with any of our plans.  And, Sunday night, our flight was one of the last to leave La Guardia, arriving in St. Louis 45 minutes early.

Good trip, good memories.

Elliott was very happy to see Aunt Zuae. . .
and Uncle Dan.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Owl Rescue

Last night, while watching television, we heard a familiar thud.  This time, however, the thud was louder, so I was immediately afraid it was the owl Jim saw in the backyard a few days ago.  We flipped on all the back lights and there he was, a stunned barred owl laying on the steps that lead to the three-season room.

Sadly, every year, several song birds fly into the walls of the three-season room, which are a series of sliding glass doors.  Each death is upsetting, of course, but not as disturbing as seeing that huge beautiful owl laying flat on his back.

After an hour, the owl did manage to slide off the stairs, but he was still flat on his back with his eyes wide open.  Jim scooped him up, put him in a box, and left him in the garage overnight.  He was still alive this morning, so I took him to the World Bird Sanctuary in Valley Park, MO.

I honestly was shocked when they lifted the owl out of the box and he was able to stand upright.  Their initial exam confirmed no broken bones and no evidence of internal hemorrhaging.  The vet comes tomorrow, so he'll get a more thorough examination then.  In the meantime, he's safe and in good hands.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Lovin' Groupon

I'm starting to love  A few weeks ago, I got $20 to spend at a local pizzeria for $10. I ended up paying nothing, however, because Groupon had just sent me a $10 credit.  And last week I bought an $89 massage at my favorite spa for $39.  But, again, I ended up paying $10 less, just $29, because Groupon had sent me another $10 credit.

Today I got a $50 iTunes gift card for $40.  It was good timing, because I'll be purchasing one or two movies to download to my iPad for the upcoming trip to New York City.  No Groupon credit this time, but still a nice offer.

I used to just delete the daily email offers, because, in the beginning, the offers didn't interest me.  Not anymore!  Now I look forward to my daily Groupon email.  Who doesn't like saving money!

(FYI, yesterday I added some of my Halloween cards to DGPaperDesigns.)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fall's Splendor

This is the view from my spot in the family room the past several days.  I love fall!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


I haven't slept well for three nights.  The whole repaving our street in the middle of the night is killing me!  And after last night's rain, it's going to take at least 1-2 days longer to complete, which extends the torture into next week.  Oy vey!

Tomorrow we meet with our lawyer to discuss the sales agreement, and how to end ownership of a business.  Things are moving along nicely, and we're set to close on November 1.  What a big change this is in our lives!

Jim is still adjusting to his new job, which I think will be easier when he no longer needs to worry about our small business.  It's just a lot to juggle right now.  But, after today, we only have 13 days of ownership to get through.

So, that's the update.  Now it's time for me to gather up enough energy to get through the rest of the afternoon with Jonah.  Might have to take him on a coffee run!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


So as if the whole sidewalk installation in front of our house wasn't annoying enough, now the city is repaving our street.  I'm not opposed to having the street repaved.  In fact, it's long overdue.  I just don't like the time of day they've chosen to do it -- 8:00 P.M. to 5:00 A.M.!

Last night the noise was unbearable.  I finally gave in and took an Ambien.  Before last night, I had only used Ambien when we traveled overseas.  It gives me a solid five hours of sleep, which is great.  However, I'm a person who needs 8-9 hours.  So I'm dragging today anyway.

It's 7:00 P.M. now and I just took a couple of Benadryl.  I'm hoping I can fall sound asleep before the noise begins, again, tonight.  I hate the idea of possibly having to take Ambien every night this week. That sounds to me like the start of an addiction.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Shopping Offers

I feel like I'm being bombarded with gift cards and serious discounts.  Some of it's related to my upcoming birthday, but nearly half of the offers are for other reasons.

Last Friday, I was invited to participate in an online meeting regarding a home-shopping channel's new website design.  I got a $50 gift certificate for an hour of my time.  To sweeten the deal, yesterday, that same home-shopping channel emailed me a twenty-percent-off-one-item code.  I'm pretty sure the email offer was just "luck of the draw," but now I have to really do some serious research to make the most of my windfall.

Another example are recent Kohl's offers.  Two weeks ago, I got a $10 birthday gift card from Kohl's.  Then, today, the peel-off offer in the Kohl's flyer that arrived in the mail was for thirty percent off my entire purchase.  Too bad Kohl's doesn't sell craft items!  Nevertheless, I'm sure I'll still have fun using my offers.

Besides, today Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft gave me a certificate for thirty percent off my entire purchase next weekend.  To qualify, I just had to spend $35 today, which you know I had no problem doing even with using two coupons.

Those are just a few of the offers I've been getting recently.  I'll be buying one or two things for myself, of course.  But I also think this would be a great time to wrap up my Christmas shopping. Guess it's time to make my list and check it twice!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Yard Cleanup

I took the fall cleaning outside this morning.  Spent nearly four hours cleaning up flower and vegetable gardens in the backyard.  The sad part is the leaves haven't even begun to fall, just a few here and there.

In a few weeks, the yard will be covered in a thick layer that will require many more hours of yard work.  I suppose all the upkeep is worth it to have a shaded yard and a wooded barrier between us and the back neighbors.  But it's days like today that make me envy people with small yards and little trees!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fall Cleaning Commences

Earlier this week, I started my fall cleaning.  On Monday, I cleaned the master bedroom, top to bottom, including all three windows and their blinds and curtains.  On Wednesday, I tackled the three-season room.  And, this morning, I finished the boys's room.

Over the weekend, I replaced the pack 'n play with a collapsible toddler cot for Jonah's naps.  It made today's cleaning so much easier.  I absolutely hate clutter, which includes a space with too much furniture.  With the smaller and much more manageable cot, I can now easily vacuum in the boys's room as well as get to the window without sidestepping a large pack 'n play.  I'm so excited about how much better the room looks now, I decided to share pictures.  Have a great weekend!

When not in use, the toddler cot takes up little space
in the corner.  For naps, it easily sets up at the foot of the bed.
A view of the boys's room from the door.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Still Counting

Last week's blood tests revealed I cannot take Simvastatin.  With our current health plan, it was going to save me $55 a month if it worked.  But now I'm back on Crestor at $65 a month, hoping St. Louis County's health plan is better than what we have now.  We'll be eligible for their family plan on November 1.

At yesterday's doctor's appointment I also learned there's no problem with my thyroid.  That's good news and I'm not surprised.  However, I'm now even more frustrated with my weight plateau.  Over two months of counting calories, and depriving myself, and I've still only lost five pounds!

This situation is a first for me.  Counting calories has always worked in the past.  And it doesn't help that the doctor is not at all concerned.  She feels, overall, I have a healthy diet and am active, so I shouldn't be fretting.  Well, I'll try not to fret, but I will keep counting.  What else can I do?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Best of Missouri Market

Holy cannoli!
Jonah's first cannoli was a big hit.
Today the family went to the Best of Missouri Market at the Missouri Botanical Garden.  It was a gorgeous day, sunny and cool.  I got several food items and am especially looking forward to preparing the two soup packages that include all the necessary spices, noodles, and beans. All I need to do is add chicken and stock.

I also got several food items for my dad's Christmas gift.  My plan is to give him a large gift bag full of nonperishables I know he'll like and won't find at Aldi's.  I love when a plan starts coming together!

Jonah grinding corn.  He loves a project,
especially when it involves special equipment.

Elliott building a wooden
fire truck at The Home Depot booth. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Lovin' Fridays

Fridays have become my favorite day of the week.  Emily picks up Elliott from the bus stop on Friday afternoon, so after I get him on the bus in the morning my weekend begins.

Since the school year began, I've worked to make Fridays stay-at-home days by getting errands run and setting appointments earlier in the week. That leaves Friday open for crafting and light chores during breaks.  Heaven!

I did leave the house today to attend the Chinese Festival at Elliott's school for an hour.  But I'll always make time for my grandsons's activities.  Besides, I had fun crafting before I left and plan to do more tonight.  There's no better way to spend a cold rainy day than to let the creative juices flow in my personal art studio!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Old Dogs Learning New Tricks

The last couple of days, Jim and I have been dealing with several modern technology challenges. I'm well aware there's a lot I don't know, but also feel I'm way ahead of most of my friends and relatives the same age.  On the other hand, Jim has been online and has owned a smartphone for several years, yet still is absolutely clueless in many respects.  For example, he doesn't understand what a browser is no matter how many times I've explained it.  He also didn't know, until earlier this week, that a computer that sits on a desk is called a desktop.  Nevertheless, this week has been full of frustration for both of us.

Poor Jim started his new job on Monday with a new PC, landline phone system, and Android phone. By yesterday, he was at his wit's end.  We've been 100% Mac for many years now, so using Outlook for email was completely foreign to him.  And he absolutely hates the Android, admitting he's been spoiled by his iPhone.  We're certain he'll figure it all out eventually.  But, before he does, I suspect his secretary will want to scream!

My challenges have been with faxes and web domains.  The company buying our business is paperless, so prefer everything emailed.  We, however, do not have a scanner and still use a fax machine.  I have no idea what the problem is, but we haven't been able to fax to their corporate office in Texas.  There's no problem faxing to their local office.  Stands to reason, therefore, that the problem's on their end, right?

Next I had to change the whois information for our company's primary domain name.  I purchased that name years ago and not through the company that hosts our website.  Unfortunately, I forgot who I used to secure the domain name, and it took hours of research and emails to finally get it resolved.

I think, once Jim and I get though all these recent challenges, we'll feel a little smarter and a bit more accomplished.  But, right now, we're both just feeling like "old dogs."

Monday, October 1, 2012

New Beginning

Jim started his new job as Operations Manager for St. Louis County Parks and Recreation this morning.  We won't close on the sale of our business until November 1, so this month will be busy and interesting.  Funny, though, neither of us are as stressed as we were before Jim accepted his new position.  We know we're facing a big adjustment.  But getting used to a 40-50 hour a week job versus working 8-10 hours a day 6-7 days a week will be worth it.

I'm slowly beginning to realize I'll be retiring soon.  By that I mean, after this month, I no longer will be contributing to my social security fund.  I'll still be managing mom's finances and health, and watching the grandsons during the week, but neither of those "jobs" involve a W2.  Nevertheless, we decided I can't really fit a pay job around my obligations, and don't want to juggle two jobs for vacation time.

Financially, it should work out fine.  I hope so, because I'm already finding that less stress is opening my mind to greater creativity.  For example, my paper crafting is at a whole new level and I'm having a blast.

I never expected a new beginning at age 60, but I like it!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Happy Birthday, Emily!

Today our baby is 34 years old.  Yikes!

Emily's gift was a large canvas tote with three owls on the front. It arrived stuffed with paper in a large box.  Instead of wrapping it, I got creative with duct tape and some maple leaf doilies. For the "bow," I stuck a stuffed owl in a nest made from a shredded paper bag.  I think it turned out pretty cute :)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Girls Come, Girls Go

While I was coloring with my 2-year-old grandson this afternoon, he took the opportunity to tell me about his friend, Natalie, at daycare.  Jonah goes to daycare Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  I asked if he was going to play with Natalie tomorrow and I got an enthusiastic "yea!"

Because Jonah is so physical and athletic, I thought he would hang more with the boys.  But it looks like he's following in his older brother's footsteps.  Until this year, Elliott always had a school girlfriend. . . in play school, preschool, and kindergarten.

So far this year, however, there's no first grade girlfriend.  And now Elliott's saying he's never getting married.  When dealing with children, things change quickly.  If it's not a physical race, it's a mental one.  Working to keep up with my grandsons will hopefully keep me young.  That is if it doesn't wear me out!

Monday, September 24, 2012

New Blog Launch

I'm down with the flu this morning.  The most frustrating part is I doubt I'll be able to do any paper crafting today, which is what I look forward to on days I don't watch Jonah.  I hate being sick!

Before the flu attack, I set up a new blog to showcase my paper creations.  If you're curious, the address is DGPaperDesigns.  All comments are welcome.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Annual Folk Festival

Emily and Elliott
Jonah churning butter with papa.
The whole gang spinning gourds.

Today we went to the annual Faust Folk Festival.  Today was as beautiful as yesterday and we had a great time. The only thing missing was the fall color.  Few trees in Missouri are changing colors, yet.  I hope the summer draught didn't ruin the fall show.  Time will tell.

Jonah making a cornhusk doll (or "action figure"
as the boys called it).

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Happy First Day of Fall!

It's the first day of fall 2012 and the weather in Missouri is perfect.  The description on is "Mostly sunny and cooler."  I'm hoping this is what heaven is like every day of the year.  Although I won't mind a dark rainy day once or twice a month, too.

Thank goodness for today's beautiful weather because it's keeping me from getting depressed.  I weigh myself on Saturday mornings and the scale hasn't budged for several weeks.  I've been diligently counting calories for two months with the help of, but have only lost five pounds.  So what now?

To lose a recommended one pound a week, according to, I can eat 1429 calories.  Since that doesn't seem to be working, I just edited my plan to lose 1.5 pounds a week.  But because that drops my calories below 1200, I got a warning that the National Institute of Health recommends women eat a minimum of 1200 calories a day.

So I decided to check's numbers by searching "how much can I eat per day."  That lead me to the American Cancer Society's Calorie Counter Calculator.  According to the ACS I can eat 2705 calories a day to maintain my current weight.  What!?!

Seriously, when I'm not in losing mode, I doubt I ever get anywhere near 2000 calories a day. And before you say I probably just don't realize it, let me tell you I do.  I've been counting calories long enough that, even without recording them, I have a good idea of how much I'm eating.

I'll be getting my thyroid tested next week.  But if thyroid disease is not the reason I can't lose, I suppose my only option is to just keep counting calories.  At least I'm not feeling deprived or starved these days.  Right now I just see food as a necessary evil, keeping me from my best self.  Probably not a good view point, but that's where I am.

At least I can take my walks these days without dripping in sweat.  I love fall!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sidewalk Drama

We do not live in a subdivision, but our street is 100 percent residential.  There's no sidewalk on our side of the street, but there is one on the other side.  Because all the utility boxes are on our side, this setup has made perfect sense.  Nevertheless, the city of Ballwin recently decided there needs to be sidewalks on both sides of our street and got a grant to pay for it.

I'm so anxious about how the sidewalk will look in front of our house.  It'll be a big change after living here for nearly 30 years without one.  And, to make matters worse, the install up and down the street, so far, leaves a lot to be desired.

I realize this is a small drama in a world filled with much bigger problems.  But this one is literally too close to home.  Oh, well.  I suppose if we hate it, we can always plant some tall bushes.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Our Tiger Cub Scout

Elliott's uniform before
I sewed on all the patches,
and with the lower half of the
pants zipped off.
I spent nearly five hours today sewing six patches on Elliott's Tiger Cub Scout shirt and hemming his pants.  My fingers feel like pin cushions, but I was happy to do it.  Truth is I love being the grandma who can do anything domestic, at least in my grandsons's eyes.

But it's tough for me to believe Elliott's old enough to be a scout. He's maturing so quickly these days.  I've always enjoyed our conversations, but now it's astounding how articulate he is and how much he knows.

Emily and I are taking Elliott to New York City for a three-day weekend the end of October.  It'll be his first visit to the Big Apple and I know he'll be amazed.  I'm looking forward to it.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

More Found Cash

Yesterday, between cleaning, purging, and paper crafting, I made a double batch of banana bread and a large pot of turkey stock.  Of course, that meant I needed to also clean out a portion of my freezer.  And, again, "fall" cleaning paid off.  I found $200 stuffed in envelopes that had slid under a lip of one of my freezer drawers!

I've been stashing ones and fives in envelopes since we began going to Mexico every summer.  That way we always have plenty of tip money.  But, this year, we didn't take our annual Fourth of July trip, so I hadn't looked for my tip money in over a year.

I honestly had no idea I had saved so much money.  Except for the fact that most people don't carry cash any more, if possible, I recommend stashing your ones and fives at the end of each day or week.  I believe you too will be surprised at how quickly they add up!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Surprise Treasure Hunt

Today's housecleaning and purging turned into a successful treasure hunt.  It all started with the decision to switch to a fall handbag.

As I dug through my inventory, I decided it was time to part with some handbags I rarely use anymore.  That lead to completely emptying out two drawers and two shelves to thoroughly dust before putting back bags I wanted to keep.  But, before stashing the handbags that made the cut, I decided to check all the hidden pockets.  And, boy, am I glad I did!  I found five twenty-dollar bills in the zipped pocket of one of my clutches!

Sadly, I have no idea how long the $100 was in that bag.  Clearly I need to keep better track of my cash.  For sure, in the future, before sending any handbags to charity, I'll be quadruple checking all the pockets!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Back in 2022

There have been a lot of improvements since my last colonoscopy ten years ago.  Firstly, the prep no longer includes that disgusting liquid.  I just had to take four laxative tablets, and drink a full bottle of Miralax mixed with 64 ounces of Gatorade.  And the actual procedure is also less disturbing.  The sedative is much milder.  I drifted off within seconds and 20 minutes later was talking coherently.

Nevertheless, I'm thrilled I don't have to go through another colonoscopy until 2022.  Hopefully ten years from now I'll still be as healthy as I am today.  But, honestly, it's hard to imagine myself at 70-years-old.  I just can't go there.  I prefer instead to simply enjoy my 60s as best I can.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Hello Fall!

After a week of stifling humidity, Missouri is enjoying fall-like temperatures today.  And the grass is green, again, after all the rain we've gotten recently.  And the Pumpkin Spice Latte is back at Starbucks.  So, even if the calendar doesn't say fall, in my world, the seasons have changed.  I'll use any warped logic to stretch fall.  It's always been my favorite season and I'm so glad it's back.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

It's a Hit!

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood premiered over Labor Day weekend.  Produced by the Fred Rogers Company, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is an animated sequel to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.  In Missouri, we get new episodes, weekdays, at 10:00 A.M.

I'm thrilled to report Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is a hit with my two-year-old grandson, Jonah.  He's completely mesmerized during the entire show, laughing and playing along.  Thank you PBS!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Standing the Test of Time

Jonah (2) and Elliott (6) enjoying the original iPad :)

There's something heartwarming about a toy that can still hold a child's interest after 52 years.  On a recent road trip to Kansas City, one of the restaurants my daughter's family visited gave the boys Etch a Sketches while they waited for their meals.  What a fantastic idea!  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

New Business?

I can't believe it's Tuesday already, which means I haven't posted for five days.  I've had the usual stuff keeping me busy. . .the grandsons, the business, mom, housekeeping, and on and on.  But the real reason I haven't been posting regularly is because I've been spending hours paper crafting.

For the last few weeks, if I'm not making a card in my free time, I'm watching another YouTube tutorial.  I really appreciate all the talented people who take the time to make and share videos.  I've learned so much my mind is spinning with ideas.  And I must be improving, because I recently had someone ask if I could make 50 Christmas cards.

I'm not ready for mass production, but it certainly got me thinking.  Once things settle after the sale of our business and the holidays, I should find myself with extra time.  It might be nice to make a little money doing something I enjoy.  Now wouldn't that be sweet!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Our Big News

After 24 years, we're selling the family business and Jim's going back to work for St. Louis County Parks and Recreation!  

If you've been following this year's posts, then you know we've had an extremely frustrating year with the business.  We've had to fire three people, and our fleet has been involved in three accidents of which none were our fault.  The last accident totaled a truck with less than 500 miles, and put the driver on workers compensation.  It's been over a month and that technician is still out with no end in sight.  In summary, we've been down a truck and/or technician the entire year, which means Jim's been working 80 hour weeks.  The last time he worked this hard was our first year in business.

I'm not an overly religious person, but for months now I've felt God was trying to tell us something. After Jim got the right job offer, he started to feel the same.  Truth is, before the year began, we were ready to keep going for another ten years.  But, after what we've been through recently, accepting the opportunity with St. Louis County was an easy decision.  We're more than ready to sell and to eliminate the headaches and stress associated with owning a business.

So, on October 1, Jim will return to St. Louis County Parks and Recreation as Parks Operation Manager, a position one step above the one he left 24 years ago.  There's a lot to do between now and then, but we're already feeling less stressed.  Actually, we feel as if we've been given a new lease on life.  Amen!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Slim Fit

Didn't think I would, but I did.  I purchased a pair of slim fit jeans.  Because I'm thickest in the middle with short legs, I'd been avoiding this newest trend since it showed up over a year ago.  But yesterday, while shopping at K-Mart for mom, I spotted Jaclyn Smith's slim fit jeans.  I decided to give them a try because I've been wearing Jaclyn Smith's bootcut jeans for years.  Besides, they were on sale for just $14.99.

I did have to size up, which I fully expected to do in such a body-hugging pant, but they look good and actually make my legs look longer.  Hopefully, they'll be too big in another month.  But, when that happens, I'll happily buy a smaller size even if they're not on sale :)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Down Five

As of this morning, I'm down five pounds since working toward my goal of losing a total of 20 pounds.  According to, I now should reach my goal by December 15 instead of December 24.  I'm still skeptical since I haven't been at my goal weight in over ten years, but just seeing that date change is incentive to "stay the course."

Actually, the first few weeks of dieting haven't been too difficult.  Staying busy is the key. Except for this week, which was busy taking care of family, I've been doing a lot of paper crafting to keep my mind off food.  Plus, crafting is a big stress-reliever for me.  Who would have thought a pad of beautiful paper could do so much good :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Alone Time

What a crazy week!  I've been going non-stop for four days, taking care of hubby, my daughter, and the grandsons while keeping up with the company bookkeeping, housekeeping, and laundry, and preparing meals.

Fortunately, my daughter's endoscopy was uneventful as it revealed nothing that can't be controlled with diet and prescription meds.  And Jim is doing much better today after Monday's hernia surgery. So, after getting my oldest grandson on the bus this morning, I finally had time to myself while Jim was at meetings most of the day.

Of course I spent most of my alone time cleaning, but I loved having the house to myself. I'm just not used to having people around all day, everyday. Our retirement will definitely take a lot of adjusting.  That is if we ever get there!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Our 2012 Pumpkin Patch

Jonah desperately wants to pick the yellow baby pumpkins,
but grandma is making him wait until they turn orange.

Clearly, pumpkin plants don't mind the heat as long as they're watered regularly.  Last year was our first attempt at growing pumpkins and we only planted Jack-Be-Littles. This year we added pie pumpkins and they're taking over the yard and driveway.  The grandsons are beyond thrilled, which makes all the effort worthwhile.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Successful Surgery

We got through Jim's hernia surgery this morning without a glitch.  Hopefully recovery will go just as smoothly.  However, I don't think Jim will be back to work anytime this week as he had hoped.  I tend to be more realistic about these things, so planned to nurse him at least through the weekend. That is in between taking care of the grandsons and getting my daughter to her endoscopy.  Just call me Super Grandma!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Most Exciting Time of The Year

For a child, it's an exciting time when the toy catalogs arrive in the mail in late fall.  And many people eagerly anticipate the arrival of seed catalogs in mid-to-late winter.  But, for me, the most exciting time of the year is when magazines start arriving with fall leaves, apples, pumpkins, and gourds on their covers.

Who wouldn't smile when seeing
this cover in their mailbox :)

That time of year has finally arrived, again.  The temperatures are still mostly in the upper 80s, but seeing those fall covers makes me happy.  I love fall.  After 2012's hellish summer, I'm looking forward to fall more than ever this year.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Crazy Week Ahead

Next week is going to be crazy full.  On Monday, I'm taking Jim to his hernia surgery at 5:30 A.M. and nursing him the rest of the day.  On Tuesday, I'm watching Jonah all day and, if Jim's doing alright, visiting mom at the nursing home.  Then, on Wednesday, I'm taking Emily to her endoscopy at 6:00 A.M. and nursing her the rest of the day.  And, on Thursday, I'm watching Jonah all day, again.  Plus, except for Monday and Wednesday mornings, I'm also getting Elliott to and from school each day.

I'm exhausted just thinking about next week.  The hardest parts will be the early mornings Monday and Wednesday.  I'm not a morning person!

This weekend I need to do some serious menu planning and prepare several meals.  If I don't, I'll be tempted to grab fast food and jeopardize my diet.  I've already dropped three pounds and my blood pressure was at a record low yesterday.  I don't want to break my momentum.

I'm just going to do what needs to be done and focus on getting to the August 25 weekend.  I'm determined to be a few pounds lighter by then, and able to take a huge sigh of relief.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Grandma Daycare Back in Session

Today was the first day of Grandma Daycare for the 2012-2013 school year.  Obviously, Jonah had a good time because he didn't want to leave.

We had a busy morning, putting Elliott on the school bus, visiting great-grandpa and great-grandma at the nursing home, getting the car washed, playing trains, and taking a long walk while Jonah ate his lunch in the stroller.  By the time we got back to grandma's house, he was more than ready for a nap.

Jonah might be a ball of energy, but, as a result, he's a good sleeper.  I've never had a problem putting him down for a nap.  Today he slept 3.5 hours and would have gone longer.  I finally decided he needed to get up or would never keep to his 7:00 P.M. bedtime.  So, our morning was busy, but our afternoon was very relaxing.  It was a good "grandma day."

Saturday, August 11, 2012

All Aboard! (Again)

Finally, we're having cooler less-humid weather.  That is if you consider upper 80s cooler, which Missourians do after many weeks of 100+ degree temperatures.  As a result, I was able to walk several times this week, including yesterday with my oldest grandson.  I'm very proud (and still surprised) that Elliott made the 1.5 mile walk with no complaints!

While Jonah was in daycare and my daughter was working, Elliott and I spent the entire day together Friday.  After our walk, we tackled the playroom, preparing for Grandma Daycare to resume next Tuesday.  I didn't spend any time downstairs all summer, so it needed a good cleaning.  Plus, it was time to purge toddler toys and bring out my Thomas the Tank Engine collection.

Elliott got into trains when he was around 18 months old and his obsession lasted a good three years.  So I have quite a collection of TakeAlong trains and sets.  We used to spend hours and days, setting up track and running trains.  That period of time is one of my favorite grandma memories.

Now it's Jonah's turn and I'm happy to get more mileage out of my investment.  Although I don't expect Jonah's obsession to last as long as Elliott's, or to be as intense.  Jonah is much more physical and active, which makes it difficult for him to sit still for too long.

And that's the main reason I'm glad I'll be watching Jonah only two days a week this school year.  That schedule should be much more doable for me.  At least that's my hope!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Movie Review

Today I did one of my favorite things, going to a movie theatre and watching a chick flick all by myself.  I saw the latest Meryl Streep movie, Hope Springs.  If you're a female and over 50, I believe you'll like it as much as I did.

It's simply too rare to find a serious book or film about married couples in their 50s and 60s that isn't centered around their adult children and grandchildren.  Hope Springs is about an older married couple and is not a comedy.  It's about real concerns many couples have after 30+ years of marriage.

As one would expect from a Streep movie, the acting is superb.  And the performances of Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell are just as good as Streep's.  Jones and Streep are the married couple and I actually found myself diverting my eyes at times, feeling as if I had no business observing their struggle.

Once, again, I ask, is there any role Streep cannot master?  She's amazing and I hope she continues making films for many more years.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Give a Hoot

Please stop the federal government from killing the barred owl.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Thrill of School Supplies

It's been over 15 years since I've had to purchase school supplies for my children.  Nevertheless, every year I check out the sales at Target.  I love looking at the latest binders and folders, and usually find one or two to use as office supplies.  And I especially like looking at the pens, markers, and colored pencils.  I just can't resist those new packages and all the colors.

Today I treated myself to a 50 pack of Crayola SuperTips markers.  I'm absolutely giddy just thinking about using them.  For less than $6.00, I feel like a kid again!

Monday, August 6, 2012

20 in 20

I've decided to lose 20 pounds.  I haven't been that small in over 10 years.  But, according to, I should be able to drop 20 pounds by December 24 if I stick to 1462 calories a day.  As I see it, in order to reach my goal, I have two major hurdles to overcome.

First, I may have hypothyroidism, which causes weight gain.  My mom and brother have it and, during my June physical, the doctor noted some tenderness.  I'm having it checked in late September when blood is drawn to also see if the new statin I'm testing works with no side-effects.  But, honestly, I'll be surprised if I have hypothyroidism because I have no other symptoms associated with the disease.

My other hurdle will be sticking to 1462 calories a day while traveling.  Currently, we're still hoping to visit my nephew in Paris this November.  No way will I stick to a low-calorie diet while in the City of Light.  My favorite memories of our last Paris trip are the amazing meals we had.  But, because Paris is such a walkable city, a person can get away with a few extra calories.

Besides, if I stick to the game plan and don't have hypothyroidism, I should already be down nearly 15 pounds by late November.  So, if a Thanksgiving trip ends up pushing my goal date to sometime in January, that's not a problem.

Game on!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sanibel Island

Got back last night from a week in Sanibel, Florida with my daughter's family.  It was our fourth year and we're already booked for 2013.  Enjoy. . .

Jonah (2) rarely wears a hat, but loves his shades.
Elliott (6) with grandma at our favorite Sanibel Island ice cream parlor.
Elliott with one of the many shells we collected.