March 2017

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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Elliott

My soon-to-be six-year-old grandson, Elliott, has always been a challenge.  It began within a few days of birth when he couldn't nurse properly.  That continued so long he lost weight before finally getting the hang of it.  And then the real fun began.

I have two children and nine nieces and nephews, but had never experienced colic before Elliott. The hours of screaming, day and night, were enough to drive any parent, or grandparent, insane. I think the hardest part was never knowing when it would start or end.  There seemed to be no rhyme or reason for it.  Although we learned it was due to an underdeveloped nervous system.

Then, magically, at five and a half months, the screaming ended.  However, by then Elliott had developed terrible sleep patterns as we were told to do "anything" to get him to sleep. That included letting him fall asleep while being rocked or nursed, and not keeping to any schedule.  It took meeting with a sleep specialist to break the bad habits.

Then, finally, Elliott became much more fun around two years of age when his obsession with trains began.  At grandma's house, we spent hours playing with Thomas the Tank Engine toys and watching DVDs as well as reading train books.  The obsession and fun continued even after Elliott's third birthday.  However, that's also when new frustrations started as Elliott's strong personality became extremely obvious.

Elliott clearly has his own creative way of thinking, which means he often has trouble following rules and gets easily frustrated.  As a preschooler, his frustrations were the cause of a lot of tantrums. Elliott's also extremely bright and empathetic, which makes him super sensitive and emotional.  A seemingly mundane situation can bring him to tears. And because Elliott's brain is always in hyper speed, he often has trouble staying focused.

At first we thought Elliott's lack of focus was a sign of Attention Deficit Disorder.  But then things seemed different from our ADD experience with our son.  Elliott's lack of focus is more a desire to do it "his" way rather than an inability to juggle several things at once. And that's when I started researching traits of gifted children, which brings us to the present.

Recently Elliott's Kindergartner teacher recommended him for the school's Gifted Program.  He'll be tested and interviewed next month.  I'm praying he's accepted.  While Elliott's definitely challenging, he's also above average, and I want him to have every opportunity to reach his full potential.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Where's the Snow?

It's currently 65 degrees, which is the high temperature predicted for tomorrow too.  After that, the next two weeks are showing temps in the 40s and 50s.

I'm happy that, so far this winter, the heater hasn't been running continuously.  And I appreciate that the warmer weather is keeping our pest control business busier than normal for this time of year.  However, I'll be sad if this is the year of no snow, and I'm not the only one.

Most of the local people I've talk to about the weather are also missing the snow.  I think it's because, when you live in the midwest, you expect four seasons.  And, let's be honest, it's just not winter without some snow.

One snow storm that drops 4-6" is all I need.  I just hope this doesn't turn into one of those "be careful what you wish for" things!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Arrrrr!

Elliott's birthday party is less than two weeks away.  He'll be six on February 14, but his party is Saturday, February 11.  It's going to be a Pirate Party.

Today I made medallions for the pirate hats.  Per Elliott's request, there will be several craft stations.  The kids will make pirate hats, ships, parrots, and chests.

The cake will be a pirate ship, which I'll be baking.  It should be easier than past years, because this time I have a pirate ship bundt pan instead of doing a cake free style.

Fortunately, Elliott didn't want to invite his class.  School rules are you have to invite all the kids, not just your friends.  So Elliott opted to only invite cousins and a couple friends who don't go to his school.  That adds up to nine kids, including Elliott and Jonah.  And I, for one, think nine wild pirates are plenty!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

More Home Improvement

Today we got the chimney tuck pointed.  When I first contacted the company who did the job, I was told they were booked several months out.  That worked for us, because business is slow this time of year, which means cash flow is meager.  But then, yesterday, they called to say they wanted to do the job today.  So, now it's done.

January 2012 just continues to be a challenging month in many ways.  For one, I feel I'm being tested to see just how far I can stretch the budget.  Maybe we're just getting all of the big chores out of the way early in the year.  At least that's my hope.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Lucky Grandma

It's really too bad Jonah's parents don't get to enjoy the little boy I watch three days a week. When he's with his brother, Jonah turns a little hyper, working hard to hold his own.  In the 30-45 minutes I have both boys before and after school, Jonah finds it hard to concentrate on any one activity. He's too busy making sure Elliott isn't playing with any of his toys.  Or he's frustrated that he can't do what his brother's doing, such as playing on the computer.

But when Jonah and I are alone, I get to see how truly creative and bright he is.  And he's usually receptive to anything I ask him to do.  I can't remember the last time, if ever, I had trouble putting him down for a nap.  On weekends, however, I hear naps are always a fight.  I suspect it has a lot to do with Jonah seeing his brother not napping.

I know Mike and Emily aren't the first parents spending more time refereeing instead of enjoying their children's individuality.  It's what happens when you have more than one child.  In fact, I'm now sure I must have missed somethings about my second baby.  But I did have the advantage of being a full time homemaker, which gave me more time with my children than Emily gets.

And now I have the advantage of getting large blocks of one-on-one time, every week, with each of my grandsons.  I'm a lucky grandma.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Again, I Heart My iPad

My main motive for getting an iPad was to save space in my carry-on.  My hope was it would replace the larger portable DVD player, its heavy charger, and the case of DVDs I always took when I traveled.  That plan worked beautifully, but I've come to rely on my iPad for so much more.

My iPad is now my day timer, which still surprises me.  Before owning an iPad, I couldn't imagine giving up my paper calendar for a digital one.  But, since the iPad calendar is super user-friendly and it's always near me, it was an easy transition.

And, most nights, my iPad goes to bed with me.  I watch videos with the Netflix app, or read books with the Kindle app.  Laying in bed, the iPad screen size is fine for movies.  And, since the iPad is backlit, there's no need for a book light when reading.  Best of all, I don't need my nightstand lamp.  When I get tired, I just close my iPad cover.

Yes, it turns out I have a lot of uses for my iPad beyond saving space in my carry-on.  However, it's even better than expected for travel.  With the iPad, there's no need to bring a laptop or look for an internet cafe.  Plus my iPhone and iPad use the same charger, which saves even more space in my carry-on.

I know I've blogged before about how much I love my iPad, but I just had to say it again.  I heart my iPad :-)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Me" Day

Today was a "Me" Day.  I don't have Jonah on Wednesdays and, during the Read, Right, Run program, Elliott's parents take him to school early on Wednesday mornings.  I didn't even have to meet Elliott's bus after school, today, because Emily picked him up for a regular doctor's appointment.

I started the day with a facial and my first professional peel. Unfortunately, going in, I didn't know I had to avoid getting hot for 24 hours after a peel.  Nevertheless, I was determined to fit in some type of workout today, and ended up doing two slower shorter-than-normal sessions on the stationary bike.

Then I watched Innocents Lost, starring Tom Selleck as Jesse Stone.  I've been working my way through the entire Stone series.  I don't know why it seems indulgent to watch a movie in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, but it does.  I imagine it's because I still feel Mondays through Fridays are for work, and no play, unless I'm on vacation.  It doesn't seem to matter that I work on the company books most evenings and Saturdays.  I guess it's just old thinking that will take time to change.

After the movie, I spent the rest of the day reading The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch.  It's a coming-of-age book set along the Puget Sound, a place I hope to visit some day.  It's Lynch's first novel and I find it hard to put down.

All in all, it was a slow peaceful day, which I truly needed.  I'm now feeling less stressed and a bit recharged.  I absolutely need to schedule at least one "Me" Day a month.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Finding Time To Workout

The truth is some things are easier for men.  In particular, working out is not nearly the time commitment it is for women.  I honestly would exercise nearly every day if all I had to do after is take a quick shower.

When I worked in an office, I envied the men who worked out during their lunch hours.  There was no way I could work out, shower, and redo my hair and makeup in 60 minutes.  For one thing, it takes 30-40 minutes after working out for my body to cool down to normal and my face to no longer look like a red beet!

Working from home, I thought it would be easier to fit in workouts, since I no longer have to look presentable everyday.  But it's basically the same problem.  Each day I look for a two hour gap in my schedule and, most of the time, it's just not there.

I now envy my 81-year-old dad who has plenty of time to swim an hour a day, six days a week. Together with his healthy diet, he's in better shape than he's been in decades.

Life is not fair in so many ways.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Raising Parents

The nursing home where mom lives is still battling the flu after two weeks.  They are now dealing with a second strain, which has spread beyond mom's floor, infecting the entire home.  Over the weekend, staff did their best to bar all visitors.

So I will continue to stay clear of Bethesda Meadows for at least another week.  Instead, I will call for updates.  This morning I learned mom is well over the first strain of flu and doing fine.

Unfortunately, however, dad insists on seeing mom tomorrow.  I understand he's feeling guilty about not visiting for so long, but is it really worth the risk, especially for an 81-year-old with a heart condition?  Besides, as an Alzheimer's patient, mom has no idea she hasn't seen family for awhile. Honestly, raising parents can be so frustrating sometimes.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Movie Review

Last night we watched Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. What an enjoyable movie!  From imbd.com, it's. . .

"The story of Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane's successful attempt to put together a baseball club on a budget by employing computer-generated analysis to draft his players."

I am not a baseball fan or, for that matter, a sports fan.  From reviews, however, I knew Moneyball was not a typical baseball movie.  If you like stories about nerds, or quiet observers, out-shining grossly over-paid, and often loud and obnoxious, athletes, you, too, will enjoy Moneyball.

SIDEBAR:  Peter Brand's (Billy Beane's assistant in the movie) story made me even more eager to read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain.  It releases Tuesday, January 24, and there's already reviews on Amazon.com.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Zapped

I feel absolutely zapped of energy this morning.  It must be the letdown from the adrenaline rush of dealing with the sewer pipe emergency.  It's extremely unusual for me or Jim to sleep past 7:00 a.m. But, this morning, we both slept until 8:00 a.m. and, even then, had to force ourselves out of bed.

I'm now looking at today's to-do list, thinking all of it can wait for at least another day.  Hopefully, however, my morning coffee will kick in soon and I'll manage to get at least something done today.

At least the Christmas tree is finally out of the family room.  I took the ornaments off weeks ago, but the tree had no where to go while the basement was in chaos.  Finally, late yesterday afternoon, we were able to take it downstairs.

I'm just so over January 2012 already.  At this point, I'm simply hoping we get through the rest of it without any more surprises.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hopefully, Just a Cold

I woke up feeling fine.  Within an hour, however, I was sneezing, and my nose was running and eyes were watering.  I have a cold.

It's a wonder I've managed to stay well for so long.  One or more of my daughter's family have been sick since the school year began.  And Jim just got over three-months of chest, head, and sinus congestion.

If what I have is simply a cold I'll count myself lucky.  I'll just be moving a little slower for the next 7-10 days.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Good News!

An x-ray today revealed nothing wrong with my crown or root.  There still might be a cracked tooth under the crown, but, for now, we're assuming the discomfort is from grinding my teeth.  That coupled with the fact that part of the crown was sitting too high would definitely cause pain.  The dentist shaved the crown and it immediately felt better.

The hygienist also gave me good news.  For years I've been getting my teeth cleaned every four months, because I used to get terrible plaque and tartar build up no matter how many times a day I brushed and flossed.  In October, the hygienist recommended I use an electric toothbrush and it's made a huge difference.  She said things had improved so much I now can try getting cleanings just twice a year.  Since insurance only pays for two cleanings a year, it appears the electric toothbrush was a good investment.  But even if I end up going back to three cleanings a year, based on today, at least they won't be as torturous as they were in the past.

It sure is nice to get good news for a change.  Maybe I'm on a streak and tomorrow will be a Snow Day!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Avoiding the Flu Virus

Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease over eight years ago.  She's been at Bethesda Meadows since April 2009.  When she quit walking in April 2011, mom was moved from the dementia wing to the fourth floor.

Last week, the fourth floor was hit with a flu virus.  One of the nurses called Saturday morning and told me mom started with the virus Friday night.  The fourth floor has now been quarantined and all the staff members are wearing face masks.  I was asked to tell family they should not visit for at least five days and then call Wednesday or Thursday for an update.

After some online research, I found a person is contagious for one day before and up to 5-7 days after symptoms develop.  I also discovered flu infestations are common in nursing homes, because a lot of people are coming and going and never screened.

I immediately remembered all the times dad said he cut his visit short because he wasn't feeling well.  And that reminded me of all the times, when I worked in an office, coworkers came to work sick.  It's no wonder viruses spread like wildfire!

I, for one, plan to be extremely cautious and not visit mom until next week at the earliest.  With all the bad luck I've had since the beginning of the year, I'm not taking any chances.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Good Day

Today we enjoyed a semblance of normal.  Like most Sundays, Jim woke before me and got breakfast from McDonald's.  So, after sleeping in, I had my once-a-week Egg McMuffin and half a glass of orange juice with my coffee.

After mass, we enjoyed another regular Sunday routine, lunch at St. Louis Bread Company.  I then spent the rest of the afternoon working on the company books, and mom's finances, while Jim ran errands and watched football.

It's so nice to be home, again, even though the basement is still in disarray while the concrete cures. But at least it's to a point where the cat no longer has to stay in the exercise room.  He's free to wander the entire house, again.  Nevertheless, I think Rupert's most happy about, once again, being able to hang out with us in the family room.  Right now he's sleeping next to me on the couch and I believe he's smiling =^..^= .

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bad Month or Year?

For me, 2012 is proving to be an extremely challenging year.  We're not even through the sewer pipe crisis and I'm now facing major dental work.

I've had a cracked crown on a lower left molar for sometime.  Over the holidays, it started to become sensitive to hot and cold, and I'm sure it now needs to be replaced.  I had a regular dental appointment scheduled for February 29, but, this morning, decided I couldn't wait.  I'll now get the verdict Wednesday morning.  I'm not sure what will hurt worse, the work or the bill.

I pray we're just having a bad month and things will begin to improve, or at least calm down, soon. For sure, our budget, and my mental state, can't take a full year of this stuff!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Movie Review

In an attempt to lift my spirits, I went to the movies today and saw Iron Lady with Meryl Streep.  I have to agree with all the reviews I've read.  The movie is not well written and extremely disjointed, jumping from one flashback to another.  And, instead of a history lesson, it's more a depiction of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's struggles with Alzheimer's Disease. Nevertheless, Iron Lady is certainly another "feather" in Streep's "cap."  I have no doubt the movie will get her nominated for another Academy Award.

After the movie, I learned that all the sewer pipes at home were fully functioning, again.  I spent most of the afternoon cleaning bedrooms and bathrooms, doing several loads of wash, and running the dishwasher.  I feel so much better!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bored and Frustrated

Schools are open, but the roads are a mess.  So Mike decided to work from home while watching Jonah.

Unfortunately, however, I can't enjoy my day off from Grandma Daycare because I'm stuck in a hotel room with no expanded cable or wireless internet access.  The only way to get online is through a cable on the desk, which is not comfortable for watching videos.  I thought about working out, but I don't have the proper clothes.  I'm bored and frustrated.

Up until today, I had been handling the emergency sewer pipe repair extremely well.  But now I'm getting more and more annoyed.  This was suppose to be a slower month for me with more time for cooking and crafting.  I had also planned to start a kettlebell exercise program.  Now more than half the month will be gone before we're anywhere near back to normal.  And the rest of the month will be full of scheduling painters and landscapers, laying carpet, and putting the basement and garage back together.

I miss home. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Snow Day Conflict

Snow, wind, and much colder temperatures are headed our way.  If AccuWeather.com is correct, there's a chance schools will be closed tomorrow.  Given my current situation, I'm torn between wanting a Snow Day and hoping it doesn't happen.

I'll be spending tonight at the hotel, again, because half the house is now without water.  That means, either daddy has to bring Jonah to the Marriott in the morning, or I have to pick him up. Since the Marriott is out of daddy's way, and I absolutely hate driving in snow and ice, a Snow Day would be extremely helpful.

However, I don't want bad weather slowing progress with the sewer pipe repair.  By the end of today, all the excavation will be completed, leaving tomorrow for new pipe installation as long as snow doesn't get in the way.  Then, if all continues as planned, the trenches will be back filled on Friday and concrete poured on Saturday.  I could then put the playroom back together on Tuesday, in plenty of time for Jonah's return to grandma's on Thursday.  (I'm not watching Jonah Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday next week due to the holiday.)

But there's no point in fretting.  I'll just have to wait and accept what tomorrow brings.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sewer Pipe Sage Continued

By the end of the work day yesterday, Sutter Plumbing said there was a chance the basement bathroom would have to be dismantled.  Fortunately, after running a camera through that section, this morning, it was determined the pipe was sound.  That's the good news.

The bad news is it was also determined that the sewer pipe under the garage, which services the kitchen and laundry room, is not sound.  So, tomorrow a trench will be jack-hammered across the garage floor, too  The worse part of this new development is that it delays completion until Monday.

However, we are hoping the only thing left to do on Monday will be pouring concrete.  If the new pipes are in working order by EOD Friday, we could check out of the hotel Saturday morning.  The Marriott Residence Inn is a nice accommodation with good amenities, but it's not home.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Reworking the Budget

I'm at the Marriott Residence Inn while huge holes are being drilled into my basement floor.  Jim reports it's extremely loud and the whole house is shaking.  So, of course, I'm now concerned about the walls in my new bathrooms being jeopardized and knickknacks and dishes falling off shelves and hutches.  The cracked sewer pipe is back to being more of a nightmare instead of a weird dream.

We got a preliminary proposal from Sutter Plumbing this morning.  If we don't need pipes replaced under the garage or to the basement floor drain, it's roughly an $18,000 job with our cost slightly less than $5,000.  I was hoping not to exceed $5,000 out of pocket, so that part of the nightmare is looking promising.

Nevertheless, we didn't budget for a $5,000 home repair this month.  In fact, I foolishly had thought we were on top of all home maintenance with no big expenses in the near future.  But, before last Thursday, I had never heard of sewer pipes under a house needing to be replaced.  So, back goes a previously removed entry to our budget -- Emergency Home Repair.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Nightmare Turns Into Weird Dream

Truly not expecting much, I called our American Family agent, Thursday, to see if any part of the sewer line repair would be covered under our homeowners insurance.  The woman who answered the phone advised having an adjuster review the case.  So I immediately filed a claim and was told the adjuster would call Friday.  But before I heard from him, our agent's office made a follow-up call yesterday morning.  Learning the adjuster hadn't called, yet, they gave me his name and number.

I caught Mike just getting into the office and put him on speaker phone.  I'm glad Jim was home at the time, because he had absolutely no hope of insurance paying anything.  But, to our surprise, American Family is covering everything except the actual pipe.  Therefore, in addition to our $1000 deductible, we will only pay for the cost of the pipe under the house.  The City of Ballwin is paying for the pipe under the patio.  Plus, American Family is putting us up at the Marriott Residence Inn until the job is done!

We are beyond thrilled, especially after talking with Stanley from Sutter Plumbing yesterday. While he was here gathering information to start work first thing Monday morning, he broke the news that the project is much bigger than first realized.  There's now a chance a large part of the garage floor will have to be removed, also, and the entire job will take a full five days instead of two or three.

Sutter has done several jobs for us in the past and are on Ballwin's list of approved vendors. Nevertheless, I'm shocked American Family didn't want several bids.  But their only concern was having us find a company who could get started right away.

This whole experience, so far, feels like a weird dream, beginning with a backed up toilet resulting in a five-figure home repair.  Then the rare experience of good customer service, beginning with our insurance agent's office.  And then there's the discovery that we finally have a home repair covered under homeowners insurance.  But perhaps the weirdest thing has been learning that Stanley, who owns Sutter Plumbing, was in our high school graduating class.  And, after realizing our connection, Stanley saying he had a crush on me in high school, which I now remember.

Someone pinch me. . .I must be dreaming!

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Nightmare

In an attempt to keep my New Year's resolution of not overwhelming myself, our New York trip is now on hold.  It's also on hold because the budget just took a big hit.

After the downstair's toilet backed up twice in two months, the plumber sent a camera down the sewer line yesterday.  Turns out the pipe is broken in several places and filled with roots.  The biggest area is under the play room; the smaller area is under the brick patio.  So the concrete floor of the basement play room needs to be removed, and part of the brick patio needs to be dismantled. To make matters worse, the situation is urgent.  Until the pipes are fixed, we have to shorten our showers and space them out.  We also have to space out flushing the toilets, and can do only small loads of wash that have to be delayed for an hour or two after a shower.

We're getting bids today, but need to schedule the job immediately.  I'm praying it can be done in two to three days, beginning either Monday or Tuesday.  However, because the concrete needs to cure for several days, no matter when they start, I'm looking at a week without a play room, the only safe place in our house for Jonah.  It's a nightmare.

Plus I simply can't believe we're dealing with another major basement repair.  Just a year ago, we were preparing the basement and garage for the anchoring of the front foundation wall, another expensive messy project.

After recent developments, I'm glad we never finished the entire basement.  I'm also glad we didn't spend a huge amount of money on the area we did finish and used easy-to-remove-and-replace carpet tiles on the floor.  Nevertheless, we sure are sick of moving furniture, toys, and storage as well as writing big checks for basement repairs.

(The good news is our monthly electric bill has been reduced.  Our house is all electric and we were on a $219 monthly budget.  But, because it's been so warm, our usage has been under budget for months.  As a result, January's bill is just $68 and our new budget is $201, starting in February.)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy Anniversary to Us

Today Jim and I start our 40th year of marriage.  Next year's anniversary will be a big milestone, but this year's 39th is "nothing to sneeze at."

Overall, there's been a lot of happiness and good fortune during our entire marriage.  And my hope and prayer this year is the same as every year, many more happy healthy years together.

Happy anniversary, Jim!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Read, Right & Run Marathon

Elliott started the GO! St. Louis Read, Right & Run Marathon this morning.  What this means to grandma is extra sleep.  Here's the program description:


Calling all students to read 26 books, perform 26 good deeds, and run 26 miles!  This is all it takes to participate in the GO! St. Louis Read, Right & Run Marathon.  To help you get started, Mr. Meyer is supervising Wednesday morning running sessions, in the gym, from 7:30 a.m.-8:00 a.m., beginning January 4.


That early in the morning, one of Elliott's parents can drop him off at school on their way to work. And, since Jonah's in daycare on Wednesdays, that means I get to sleep in once a week.

Go St. Louis!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year's Resolution

The sweet serenity I was enjoying didn't last long.  Yesterday I fought with our accounting firm, and today I'm dealing with plumbing issues.  Fortunately, however, I'm not currently overwhelmed with several projects and chores, so responding to these emergencies hasn't been as stressful as it normally would have been.

I just wish I could get a longer period of "easy sailing."  Since I long ago gave up on the belief peace would come during retirement, I need to minimize stress now, especially the kind that's self-induced.

So I guess I have a New Year's resolution after all.  Stop taking on more than I can easily handle, allowing time and strength for the next emergency that's just around the corner.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New York City Trip

For the last few days, I've been doing research for our February and June trips.  In February, we're going to New York, spending part of the trip in Manhattan and the other in Long Island.  The June trip is our annual visit to the Riviera Maya.

The cost difference of the two trips is striking.  Four nights in New York City costs nearly the same as a full week in the Riviera Maya at a four-star resort that includes unlimited drink and food.

Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to seeing NYC again.  We've been several times and there's never enough time and energy to do everything on our list.  Since it's been over ten years since our last visit, I suspect energy will be our biggest problem this trip. Nevertheless, we'll gladly give it all we've got.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Game on 2012!

When my dad turned 81 in September, I asked if he had ever thought he would live so long.  He said he had never thought about being in his 80s.  That's how I feel about 2012.  I never thought about being here.

If I had considered it, for example when I was a teen, I probably would have found it hard to fathom.  For sure, I never could have imagined cell phones, laptops, or tablets much less rarely ever being without one or more of them.

I've never been one to long for the "old days" and am rarely nostalgic.  But I do sometimes wish advancements in technology would slow down a little.  Since I don't see that happening, however, I now imagine every new year as another 12 months of technology catch up.  No problem.  Game on 2012!