March 2017

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Monday, December 28, 2015

No More Presents

Well, that's not exactly true. We will still give presents to our grandchildren on their birthdays and for Christmas. But, starting in 2016, we will no longer give presents to our adult children. And we will no longer send presents to the children of my nephews, and to the daughter of my grandsons's godfather. I'm done sending presents and never getting a thank you via text, email, or snail mail.

And one day our dream is to not give wrapped presents to our grandchildren either. Instead we want to take them on trips to new destinations and hope to be physically and financially able to do that with the boys in just a few years.

So our gift giving just got a lot simpler and easier much like our new holiday traditions. In both cases, the changes are all good.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Christmas!

And this is how I feel about the 50+ degree weather we're having today. Errrrrr. . .


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

New Christmas Traditions

This is the first year since 2006 that I haven't watched one of the grandsons several days a week during the school year. That gave me plenty of time to prepare for Christmas. Ironically, this is also the first year since 2006 I haven't needed nearly as much time.

We slashed our gift-giving budget in half this year. I also decided to give easy gift cards to most of our recipients, using credit card points. There are two reasons for these changes. First, after a year of major purging, I no longer want to contribute to the stash of minimally-used items in other people's homes. Second, by using gift cards, people can get exactly what they want. I did take care to get gift cards at places I know the recipients frequent.

In addition to wrapping fewer gifts, I also spent much less time decorating the house this year. Again, that decision was primarily due to all the purging. I just couldn't handle a lot of holiday clutter. Plus, after preparing and serving a Thanksgiving dinner for 10, I wasn't up for going up and down the stairs with decorations as much as in previous years. Especially since hubby was down with a strained back muscle and couldn't help. Hubby's back problem also meant a four-foot tree this year, which took me 30 minutes to decorate instead of the hours it took to deck out an eight-footer.

Those are big changes, but there are more. For the first time in as long as I can remember, we're not hosting our Family Christmas on Christmas Eve. My daughter's family will be driving home from Disney World that day, so we moved our celebration to Saturday, December 26. Given that change, I figured why not simplify the menu too. This year, instead of Ina Garten's home-made chicken stew, we're having Sloppy Joes and store-bought slaw.

Yes, Christmas is definitely feeling different this year, and the spring-like weather isn't helping. But, while I'm feeling a bit disoriented as a result of so many changes, I'm also feeling relaxed. After a moment of melancholy a few days ago, I'm now ready to embrace many of this year's holiday changes, primarily spending and decorating less, as new traditions. I guess I was ready for some holiday changes and just didn't know it!



Sunday, December 20, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

It's been a movie weekend for us. Today we say Star Wars: The Force Awakens in IMAX 3D. To my surprise, it was 100% better than I expected. It's just that, when something's promoted as much as Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been, it usually never lives up to all the hype. But I'm betting true Star Wars fans are very happy this weekend.

Since I'm not a science fiction fan, however, I enjoyed yesterday's movie (Creed) more. But I'm glad I saw the new Star Wars movie, too, if for no other reason than to see familiar faces. Plus, by seeing the movie in IMAX today, AMC gave hubby and I each an exclusive poster I'm sure some Star Wars fans I know will love.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Creed

After reading the positive review in Entertainment Weekly, we decided to see Creed today. I've never been a fan of boxing, even though my dad was when I was growing up. But I do remember enjoying the Rocky movies, so I was more than game to see the latest installment in the franchise.

I now agree Creed should be nominated for several Academy Awards, including best supporting actor for Sylvester Stallone's portrayal of a senior Rocky Balboa. Creed definitely gets my recommendation.




Thursday, December 17, 2015

Holiday Activities

Over the weekend hubby and I participated in one of our favorite holiday traditions, the Lafayette Square Holiday Parlor Tour. I shared some of my favorite things from the event on Facebook. Just click here to see the online album.

Then yesterday I had lunch with my dearest friend at Brio Tuscan Grille. It's a beautiful restaurant and the food is always delicious. We made it a true holiday lunch by adding a glass of Champagne and a scoop of gelato. So much fun!

Looking ahead hubby and I are excited about seeing Star Wars The Force Awakens this weekend, and enjoying Christmas brunch at Pere Marquette Lodge where we spent our honeymoon.

Christmas to me is the special activities and moments shared with loved ones. And I'm grateful to be able to experience so many of them.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Weight Lose Logic – NOT!

Once I reach goal weight, I should be able to add 500 calories to my daily diet. Therefore, stands to reason, I should be able to eat an extra 200-300 calories right now and still maintain my current weight, which is 5-8 pounds over goal, depending on the day. In other words, if I add a few hundred calories a day a few times a week, I get that I won't lose weight but feel I should be able to still maintain my current weight lose.

That logic doesn't seem to be playing out, however. I've been fluctuating within three pounds for weeks, but for the last two days it's been three pounds up not down. I suspect it's the extra sugar and salt that's hidden in foods I don't normally eat. However, since I'm still counting calories, I just feel those minor indulgences should not be adding weight.

After the holidays, I won't be faced with situations offering foods outside my normal diet.  I also plan to hit the gym more often in an attempt to get hubby in shape for our May trip. I've offered to join him twice a week on the gym track. Every week he'll pick two days that fit his schedule and we'll go together even if I've been to the gym earlier that day. So I should be able to get back on track (pun intended) to losing those last 5-8 pounds before turning 65 in October 2016.

But, right now, I don't see how I'll ever be able to add 500 calories to my daily caloric intake. Given my recent experience, it seems to me I'll be on 1500 calories per day for the rest of my life if I don't want to gain weight. It's just not logical and drives me a little crazy.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Fun Illinois Weekend

Hubby and I drove to the Chicago area last Friday and returned yesterday. On Saturday we did the Holiday House Tour in Geneva, IL with my niece and sister. On Sunday hubby and I spent the day downtown, enjoying the holiday decorations, visiting the Christkindl Market, and checking out the Cloud Gate in Millennium park.

My niece, Margaret, and sister, Nancy,
in front of a Geneva shop.
All weekend the weather was perfect for walking outdoors with winter coats, upper 30s and low 40s with full sun. Unfortunately, many others thought so too. On Sunday the crowds were extremely heavy everywhere we went. At the Market it was shoulder-to-shoulder and I'm glad the grandsons weren't with us. They would have been miserable, and I would have been majorly stressed keeping track of them.

Nevertheless hubby and I had fun. It had been a long time since we'd been to Chicago and I'd forgotten how much I enjoy big cities. There's a special energy I feel walking among the skyscrapers. And I enjoy the plethora of stores and restaurants big cities offer. Even though I do very little shopping anymore, and can't eat much no matter how hard I try.

In summary, it was great to getaway for a few days, spend time outdoors, enjoy holiday activities, and visit with my niece and sister. Holiday fun with no need to cook, clean, or decorate!

For us, the best part of the Christkindl Market
was the opportunity to try authentic German food.
I loved looking at all the nutcrackers
at the Market.
The breathtaking tree in Macy's
Walnut Room.
The Cloud Gate behind the ice skating
rink, which was packed except when
the Zamboni was running.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Eating Smart Update

As of today I've lost eight pounds since April 1. And I'm finally accepting that lose as a great accomplishment. Apparently gone are the days of losing 2-3 pounds in a month by just counting calories. Today my 64-year-old self is proud of steadily losing a pound a month for eight straight months.

I'm also proud of not gaining weight over Thanksgiving week. In all honesty, I didn't even find it difficult. After eight months of limiting myself to 1500 calories a day, I suppose it's become an ingrained way of eating. Of course by also avoiding sweets that commitment is made easier, especially during the holidays.

I am still missing spring and summer fruits and vegetables. I'm doing my best with apples, oranges, and grapes, but I just don't enjoy them like I do melons, berries, plums, and peaches. I suppose there's always the option of frozen fruit, which I think I'll try soon. As the saying goes, "where there's a will there's a way!"


Monday, November 30, 2015

The Decorating Is Complete!

Since 80 percent of the ornaments
are owls, I call it our Hootie Tree.
So I didn't make my EOD Sunday deadline, but I was close. I finished decorating for Christmas by 8:30 A.M. today. And all I had to do this morning was decorate our new tree.

Yep, we bought a smaller tree over the weekend because hubby is still suffering with a pulled back muscle. He's getting better, but hauling and assembling an eight-foot tree would have been rough.

I love the idea of a smaller tree anyway. It's so much easier to deal with and less tree for perfectionist me to fuss over.

Plus our new artificial tree is the best we've ever had. There's no need for fluffing and it's covered with berries, pinecones, and artificial snow and ice. Honestly, it looks great even without ornaments. But adding ornaments was a breeze because there's plenty of room between branches. Oh, and the best part is, if one bulb burns out, it still stays lit!


Friday, November 27, 2015

And Now It's Christmas

Just couldn't get the group
to cooperate for a photo,
so hubby focused on the
food and table.
I successfully cooked and served another Thanksgiving meal. Everyone enjoyed the food and, overall, it was a good day. My daughter's family joined us as well as my 85-year-old dad. And my son and daughter-in-law were here as well as the Korean young man they're guardians to while he's in America.

Insoo is a complete delight. He was so good with both of the grandsons, playing games with them as well as making sure they ate and buttoned up their coats. When he moves to our area with Daniel and Zuae in the spring, for sure he'll be the boys's first-pick babysitter!

And now the rush is on to decorate for Christmas. I do less and less each year, but it's still a big job. Although this year we may not be putting up a big tree. Hubby pulled a back muscle last Sunday and is in a lot of pain unless he's just laying on the couch with a heating pad.

If he's still down tomorrow, I may buy a small tree I can handle all by myself. Or maybe we just won't have a tree this year, which frankly wouldn't bother me. Either way, a decision will be made no later than Sunday. After which, I don't want to do anymore decorating.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Grandbaby #3!

My son and daughter-in-law arrived yesterday for the holiday week with big news. They're expecting their first child in July 2016!

Best of all, they are moving to our area in late April. So, once again, we can be hands-on grandparents. Of course, since it will be ten years after welcoming our first grandbaby, I'm skeptical about just how active we will be. But, no matter what, we'll be able to give lots of hugs and kisses.

I'm so looking forward to cuddling a new grandchild. And the news has given me even more incentive to continue working out and eating clean.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Winter Wonderland

Me and Emily with Jonah (5) and Elliott (9)

Last night we walked the Winter Wonderland at Tilles Park with my daughter's family. Hubby works for St. Louis County Parks, so we were able to get tickets to the preview weekend. No crowds but I don't remember the last time I was so cold.

The boys were troopers but we were all glad to get back in the car. I'm afraid it's going to be a looooong winter.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Pumpkin Pie Run Winner!

What's better than a medal
or trophy? A pumpkin pie!
Yesterday was Jonah's first Pumpkin Pie Run as he's now in grade school. The way the Run works is each student predicts how long it will take them to run the track. The student in each grade who gets the closest to their prediction wins the pie. For the Kindergarten group, there was a tie this year and two winners, Jonah and Vivien.

Since Jonah could walk, I've been saying he's the athlete in the family. He's extremely strong, has always been able to kick and throw a ball straight and long, and has a natural runner's stride. I'm so eager to get him involved in sports, but it's difficult since no one in his immediate family has any interest. At this point I'm counting on Jonah's gym teachers and classes.

And I'm hoping yesterday's win is a step in the right direction. Jonah was beyond excited and so was his brother, mom, dad, and grandparents. Congratulations, Jonah!


Monday, November 16, 2015

Holiday Focus

For the last few weeks, I primarily have been focused on preparing for Thanksgiving, finishing my holiday gift shopping, and doing some fun holiday crafting.

After testing a few recipes, my Thanksgiving menu is finally set. So I'm now able to shop for all the ingredients and plan to finish no later than Saturday.

By EOD Saturday, I also plan to finish my holiday gift shopping. I only have two gift cards to purchase and a couple of small gifts to assemble. But, after that, all gifts will be purchased and wrapped.

And for my own sanity and pleasure, I completed some holiday crafting and cross-stitching. Last Friday Jonah and I made gift tags for his mom to use. And I finished several snowflake tags for my own gift giving.

We have travel and sightseeing plans for the first two weekends of December. So I've been anxious to complete all my holiday projects before the end of November. (I finished my holiday cards in October.) It's now looking good for a December full of fun. I just need to get through Thanksgiving and putting up the tree two days later!

This little snowman was super easy and fast
to stitch while watching TV. I got a pack of six
snowflakes from the Dollar Tree, so this tag
was also extremely affordable.
I finally got to dip into the bag of colored shells
I bought in Sanibel last August.
Jonah helped with the die cutting and glued the shells on the trees.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Spectre

For as long as I've known my husband he's been a James Bond fan. So it's no surprise we saw the franchise's latest installment the first weekend of its release. This Bond movie viewing was unique, however, because Spectre is the first one we've seen in IMAX. What a rush! The explosions shook our seats and the helicopters felt and sounded as if they were flying over our heads!

If you're a Bond fan you'll like Spectre. As always, the locations are beautiful; the soundtrack is enjoyable; and the pace is fast. Plus Daniel Craig, once again, delivered the perfect 007.



Sunday, November 1, 2015

Bridge of Spies

Hubby's been sick with a virus for three days. That means he's been laying on the couch in the middle of the family room for three days. I just don't get it. If your sick, go to bed. If your tired, go to bed. Drives me crazy!

Please understand I am not a bad person. I've been bringing him blankets and food, and regularly asking if he needs anything else. I'm happy to be his nurse. I just would appreciate a break now and then, which I can't get if he's always in the common room!

So today I just had to get out of the house and decided to go to the movies. I saw Bridge of Spies, staring Tom Hanks as Jim Donovan, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Bridge of Spies is my kind of movie, a dramatization of real people and events with no blood and guts. I have no doubt it'll be nominated for several Academy Awards, starting with best actor for Hanks's performance.

I strongly recommend Bridge of Spies for the storyline and acting. But, if you grew up in the 50s, you'll also enjoy the set and costume designs. Bridge of Spies is all around good entertainment.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!

Elliott (9) as Elliott from E.T.;
Jonah (5) the explorer.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Another Update

Just noticed I haven't posted since October 13. So here's an update.

Last weekend hubby and I drove to northern Illinois for a long weekend with my sister and her family. On Saturday we saw the glass pumpkins at Morton Arboretum; had lunch in Gelena; walked through Fabyan Villa; and had dinner in Plainfield. Then on Sunday, before driving home, hubby and I stopped at a local pumpkin farm for hot apple cider donuts – yum!

It was a refreshing and fun getaway. And we're now considering another visit in December to enjoy several holiday events, including Chicago's Christmas Market. The only problem is, that far north, the temperatures will be freezing by then; and there's a good chance there will be snow on the ground. We need to give it more thought.

Before leaving for our weekend getaway, hubby and I went with my dad to his annual meeting with his financial advisor. A few weeks before that meeting we all met with dad's lawyer. Turns out dad's in great shape physically and financially for an 85-year-old. But he's still as cheap and block-headed as he's always been. Honestly I can only stand to be around dad for short periods of time, which is why hubby offered to join me at the recent meetings. He knows how difficult it is for me to deal with dad and how obstinate dad can be. Truth is dad hasn't changed. I've just become much less tolerant of his behavior.

I've also been doing a lot of yard work. We have a three-quarter acre wooded lot and, this time of year, the falling leaves keep us very busy. Might explain why I've been especially tired these days.

Well, those are the highlights. We're headed to a local pumpkin glow this evening, so I might have pictures to post tomorrow. It all depends on how well my camera takes night shots. Fingers crossed!


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Update

As a follow-up to yesterday's post, this morning (two mornings after a sugar day) the number on the scale is at an all-time low. Yippee!

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Pattern Has Emerged

I went from weighing myself weekly to checking the scale daily a couple of months ago. While it's depressing to see the number on the scale go up 1-2 pounds, it's motivating when it drops, which is why I plan to continue daily weigh-ins. Plus, by weighing myself daily, I've made a helpful discovery.

No matter if I stay within my allotted calorie count, my weight regularly fluctuates 2-3 pounds. And, since I log daily with LoseIt!, I've discovered the number on the scale always goes up the day after I've eaten a lot of sugar. For example, Saturday and Sunday morning I was at the same number. Then this morning I was up two pounds after several indulgences yesterday. I had half of a donut at a church social. And, at an Octoberfest lunch, I had a locally-made root beer and delicious blueberry bread pudding.

For the most part, since April, my daily diet has included little-to-no sugar. And, frankly, I don't miss it and, in fact, don't get that much pleasure from sugar anymore. When eating alone or at home, I rarely choose something with sugar in it. For example, for weeks there have been caramel apples in the house and I haven't had a single one. It's only when I'm in a group setting that I find myself indulging.

But now that I know how my body responds to sugar, I'll be considering those indulgences much more carefully. It's ridiculous to let a 2-minute indulgence sabotage my effort to reach goal weight.

Friday, October 9, 2015

What a Week!

The holiday season has started, which means family drama has returned. Granted most of these happenings could have occurred any time of the year, but they didn't.

First, I learned my son, his wife, and their Korean 20-year-old roommate are joining us for Thanksgiving. Bless my daughter, because our visitors will be staying at her new very large home. However, I'll be serving Thanksgiving dinner, as usual, now serving 10 instead of seven. But I'm determined to keep things simple. Not sure how my son will take not having mashed potatoes, which I haven't included in my Thanksgiving menu for many years now. Oh well, his doctor recently told him to lose 30 pounds anyway.

Then, this past Tuesday, I dragged dad to a meeting with his lawyer. It's been five years since Rudy helped us place mom on Medicaid while securing dad's financial future. But dad's recently been making some decisions that would make dispersing his estate much more complicated than need be. Turns out I was right and Rudy is now putting together a trust and will for dad. Plus, we learned about a new annuity offering in the state of Missouri that would pay for dad's long-term care, should he need it, without spending down his savings.

All good stuff, but dad made me pay the $1,650 fee because "it was my idea." I can't describe how sad,  mad, and disappointed I was, especially knowing dad can easily afford the fee. Fortunately, the next day he called and asked if I could wait until December to be paid back. He decided it was his responsibility. Duh! Talk about an emotional roller coaster ride!

But, before dad's call, I was dealing with brother's craziness. For an extremely stupid reason, Kevin doesn't like Rudy. However, he's been pushing dad to make a will for years. Like I said – craziness!

And just to make things even more interesting, I learned one of my nephews is moving to South Korea next month. And, unfortunately, he will not be living near my daughter-in-law's family who would love to welcome him and help in anyway they can. My sister's a wreck and I completely understand.

Here's hoping the weekend is down right boring!


Monday, October 5, 2015

The Martian

Yesterday hubby and I saw The Martian in 3D. I wish the theater had offered it in IMAX too. Not sure why they didn't. 3D made for a more immersive viewing, but picture and sound quality would have been so much better in IMAX.

Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed The Martian. I'm a Matt Damon fan, but also a sucker for any film about extremely intelligent people.

I especially enjoyed the young scientist who "saved the day." While his office was a complete disaster, he was so brilliant no one seemed to care. Gives me hope that my 9-year-old grandson can be appreciated for his mind and creativity as an adult, despite the fact his messy room currently frustrates his parents to no end.

I highly recommend The Martian. It was entertaining and a great way to start our holiday movie watching.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

2015 Best of Missouri Market

More fall fun was had by all today, this time at the Best of Missouri Market. It was chilly and cloudy, but not nearly bad enough to dampen our spirits.

In the Kid Zone, as part of admission, the boys
got to pick out their own pumpkin.
This was my second attempt at a photo with papa for our
holiday card collage. This one's the keeper!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Happy Birthday, Emily!

Today is my daughter's birthday. I now have a 40-year-old son and 37-year-old daughter. Wow. How am I that old?

I'm just going to focus on the two best gifts of aging Emily's given me, Elliott and Jonah. Thank you with all my heart, Emily!

Elliott (9), Mike, Emily, and Jonah (5)

Monday, September 21, 2015

2015 Faust Heritage Festival

We had a ton of fun yesterday at the Faust Heritage Festival. Our family has enjoyed this festival for many years, but yesterday's event was extra fun. The weather was perfect. And the boys were both in great moods and eager to participate in all the demonstrations. I loved it!

Many photo opportunities. 
I love this smile! Flip the sock bag out of one side and catch it in the other.
Elliott was so excited when he succeeded. Grandma was thrilled to see his
enjoyment over an activity that didn't require a cord or control panel!
Jonah still enjoyed the pony ride this year.
Jonah talked about "writing with a feather" often
after doing it last year.
Threading a peg.
Making a friend while churning butter.
After some hesitation, Jonah enjoyed his pottery lesson.
Papa and Elliott saw a log.  
Elliott hammers a piece of wood into a peg.
Papa watches while Jonah makes a rope.
Our clever boy was so proud of the way
he decided to carry his rope.
Shucking corn.
Both boys absolutely love the lady who
makes cornhusk "action figures."

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Finally Booked!

After much consideration, discussion, research, debate, and planning, we finally booked a May 2016 trip to central and eastern Europe in celebration of our 65 birthdays next year. We chose the Imperial Splendors escorted tour with Globus because it includes major cities in five different countries all of which we're eager to visit.

I'm especially looking forward to Prague,
a favorite city of one of my nephews.

This was a huge decision. We've always wanted to do more international travel, but recently I've been turned off by the challenges of flying; anxious about the economy; and concerned about hubby's many minor health problems. I definitely needed a period of time between our nightmare flights to and from Maui a couple of years ago and our next long-haul flight. I also needed a better understanding of our future finances (social security and pension), and hubby's health challenges.

With all of those hurdles satisfied, we finally moved forward and booked this week. And I'm now more excited than anxious.

It could be a long eight-month wait, but I doubt it. For me, I'll fill a lot of the time learning more about all the cities we'll be visiting, and finding ways to pack minimally and efficiently.

But our main goal for the upcoming months is to stay fit and as healthy as possible. Just more incentive to keep working out and eating healthy.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Hallelujah!

As I do most mornings, I got on the scale this morning before breakfast. And I truly expected to see the same number that's greeted me for the last nearly two months. Some days I was up or down one pound, but it never lasted, always going back to that same dang number. But not today!

Today the second number of my total weight finally dropped a digit. Now I know I may not see that number, again, tomorrow or for another several days. But I also now know it's possible. So today I'm feeling especially good about how I've been feeding and treating my body.

I still hate how the number on the scale can affect my mood. But I'm better about it than I've ever been in the past. For example, I was up two pounds just three days ago and couldn't have cared less.

But today I'm at a weight I haven't seen for at least two years and I'm going to enjoy it. It's a rewarding day on my weight-loss journey.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Dad with brother, Kevin, and nephew, Matt,
holding his son, Henry.
Today is my dad's 85 birthday. He still lives alone, maintaining a house and yard all on his own. He also still drives and plans, shops, and prepares his own meals. Plus he walks the pool at the local gym for an hour six days a week.

Nevertheless, there's definitely been a change in dad over the last couple of months. Instead of insisting he can get around just fine, he now admits he can't walk very long without taking a break. He also admits he can no longer tolerate extreme heat and humidity. Within a few minutes he gets dizzy.

For dad to admit weakness is huge, but there are two other more significant signs of his acceptance the end isn't far. First, he's no longer stocking his kitchen. Instead he's using what he has and only buying food to get through another week. And second, he's been going over his copy of his trust. When I gave that binder to him four years ago, he said he never wanted to see "that thing" again.

So while dad might not be the average 85-year-old, no one expects him to reach 90. I just pray he goes quickly without too much pain and without injuring anyone else. But I suppose that's what we all hope for ourselves, too.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Ready For Fall

It's Labor Day weekend and I'm ready for fall. Next week I'll be packing up my beach decor and happily bringing out my pumpkins, witches, and other fall pieces. In the meantime, I'm marking my calendar with fall festivals I hope to attend. And I've been purging my fall wardrobe, making room for a few new pieces.

Unfortunately, however, we are not experiencing fall weather. I'm not complaining because, up until now, we've had a pleasant summer albeit a wet one. But now the grass is turning brown, which I hate, and temperatures are in the 90s with RealFeels in the 100s.

But thunderstorms are predicted for Monday, which appear to cause a drop in temperatures. After Labor Day, temperatures are supposed to stay in the 70s the rest of the month. Yay! The sooner fall starts the better!


Friday, August 28, 2015

Our Senior Years

Yesterday turned out to be a day of seeing long-time friends. I had lunch with two girlfriends. One I've known for ~30 years and see once every other month. The other I've known for ~45 years and hadn't seen for at least two years. Then, later in the day, hubby met his best man for dinner.

As hubby and I rehashed the day's conversations it struck me just how "senior" we all are. Lunch with the gals used to be all about work challenges and dealing with growing children. Yesterday our lunch conversation was about how we fill our days and deal with aging significant others. And hubby and his friend, who are both still working full time, talked a bit about living with retired spouses.

I think it's safe to say none of us expected retirement to be as it currently is. My friend of ~30 years had planned to do a lot of international travel, but her husband's gout is keeping them much closer to home. My ~45-year-old friend now lives in Florida near her sister who, for years, she didn't like. She lives with a long-time guy friend and hangs out with her sister daily. Hubby's friend's wife was forced to retire earlier this year. She was not mentally prepared for retirement and, currently, is not a happy person.

As for me, in the back of my mind, I always saw myself with a spouse who was also retired. I imagined both of us jointly dealing with daily chores; going to the movies in the middle of the week; working out together; discovering new interests; enjoying local attractions; and taking two-week trips once or twice a year. Instead, hubby hopes to work another four years while I continue adjusting to a slower-paced life on my own.

Maybe in another five years all of us will be more closely embracing the senior years we imagined in our 40s and 50s. But for now, I for one often find myself wondering, is this really retirement?


Monday, August 24, 2015

Halloween Cards

Today I finished my 2015 Halloween cards. I let the cute paper shine and added very few embellishments. And I only used my stash. No purchase necessary!

I love using craft card stock as a base for fall cards.
I used the stamp I bought for Jonah's Harry Potter
birthday party last March to dress up the front
of the envelope. Then I added interest to the
back flap with my Jack-o-Lantern punch backed
with black card stock.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

What Do You Do All Day?

After loading groceries into the car and then hauling them into the house, I had to chuckle thinking about how often I'm asked, "What do you do all day?" Because I'm no longer watching a grandson, apparently a lot of people think I'm just sitting around all day.

Well, admittedly, I do do a lot more sitting now. But, at the same time, I'm also doing online problem-solving or trip research; reading; stitching; crafting; and/or watching movies or television shows. And I love having more time to do all of those activities.

I also have more time to workout now and love being able to do that during the day. No more evening workouts for me, which is good, because most nights I'm in my PJs by 8:00 P.M. Another luxury I thoroughly enjoy.

I also plan, shop, prepare, and serve, on average, 17 two-person meals a week. And since all of those meals are made with fresh ingredients, they require a trip to the grocery store every 5-7 days, and take time and effort to prepare. Something else I'm thrilled to now have time to do. Before retirement, there was way too much eating out.

Of course, there are still also the normal household chores such as cleaning the house and keeping up with the laundry. But now I have time to also iron hubby's shirts. No more taking them to the dry cleaners. And no more longing for a housekeeper. I can now easily keep up with routine house cleaning.

Plus there are always birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays to prepare for. For example, I'm already making to-do and gift lists as well as planning menus for Thanksgiving and Christmas. And I started making fall cards this week.

So, what do I do all day? Oh, not much.




Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Numbers Are In!

I got the results of my six-month blood tests and there's nothing but good news. All numbers are well within normal range and, best of all, my total cholesterol dropped from 183 to 169!

I don't remember my total cholesterol ever being that low. And I have to believe it's due to the mostly clean eating I've been doing since April 1.

I'm still on Crestor, however, because 169 is still "high." My total needs to drop 10 more points before I get in the "borderline high" area.

But whether or not my total cholesterol ever gets in the 150 range, I'm thrilled with the results of my recent blood tests. If I needed motivation to stick with cleaner eating, that certainly would have done it. But truth is I love how my current way of eating makes me feel, which is reason enough to stick with it.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

First Day of School


Today was the first day of the 2015-16 school year, and Jonah's first day of full-day Kindergarten. He was extremely excited to start school and had a fantastic day. He got off the bus at grandma's house with the biggest smile and kept saying, "It was so much fun!"

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

I'm a Rock Star!

You have to love it when your doctor calls you a "Rock Star." I had a six-month check-up yesterday with positive numbers – blood pressure 126/86; pulse 76; six pound weight lose.

We talked about the clean eating I've adopted and my workout schedule. We also discussed my resolution to continue with my new healthy habits despite the tediously slow weight lose. The doctor's only recommendation on the subject was to "keep on keeping on."

As far as my other numbers, insurance no longer allows a blood draw before seeing a doctor. So I'll visit the lab sometime this week after a 12-hour fast. Then the physician's assistant and I will discuss the results through email or on the phone.

My next appointment is in February 2016 and I'm determined to go to that one, too, without fearing the scale. All I have to do is "keep on keeping on," so I can continue to be a "Rock Star."


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Home Safe Home

Outside The Mucky Duck Captiva
(Elliott 9 and Jonah 5)
We returned yesterday from our annual beach vacation with my daughter's family. For the last seven years we've spent one week each summer in the same beautiful condo on Sanibel Island. Although the lodging is always the same, each year's experience is different mostly due to the weather and maturity level of each of the grandsons.

This year we dealt with a great deal of rain. In fact, the first two days were filled with nothing but showers and thunderstorms. Nevertheless, we still had fun taking nature drives; visiting museums and the library; shopping; watching movies; and reading.

But I'm assuming all the rain was why the no-see-ums seemed especially bad this year. I was bit no matter where we went on the island, indoors or out. (Fortunately, the rest of the family doesn't attract them as badly as I do.) And, as a result, I spent very little time on the beach.

While the family was on the beach, however, I enjoyed quiet time away from the boys. I keep hoping each year will be easier than the last but, so far, each year is just more challenging. This trip there was constant arguing, which resulted in a lot of shouting, pouting, and crying. All of which I tolerate less and less as I age.

Nevertheless, it was a good week of family bonding and another one the boys won't soon forget. And, because of all the storms, my daughter found a lot of shells, which made her very happy. We also saw wild alligators for the first time, and got closer than ever to the many dolphins who live near the island.

Of course, we also enjoyed the local cuisine. I tried more seafood and found I especially like grilled grouper, blackened mahi mahi, and Doc Ford's clam chowder. But I didn't indulge in Pinocchio's ice cream and Jerry's key lime pie with the rest of the family and, as a reward, returned from a second trip with zero weight gain.

And now it's back to reality with only a few days left of summer freedom. But that also means my favorite season, fall, is just around the corner. Love it!


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Stuck

My weight lose journey has reached a plateau. Since returning from the mountains, I haven't lost any weight despite sticking to my diet and logging everything I eat. And worse, I realized this morning I've only lost five pounds in four months!

However, I'm truly not that frustrated. It's just another reminder that losing weight as a senior takes much more time. And that it's a good thing I've given myself a year and a half to reach my goal of losing a total of 10 pounds.

Plus there's a silver lining to this plateau. It's motivated me to give more seafood a try during our upcoming beach vacation. I enjoyed mahi mahi in Maui for the first time, so why not. And who can argue against the low calorie count of a pan-seared flounder or grouper?

So, yes, I might be stuck but I'm not discouraged. Besides, I'm also not gaining, which is a very good thing.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Rupert Update

Rupert was able to put weight on all fours two days after the vet gave him two shots in the butt. He's also eating and voiding normally for his age. However, he does seem slower and less active. Perhaps depressed?

The only significant change is Rupert's now sleeping on the carpet. Before he never slept on the floor, always preferring to be elevated. We suspect whatever happened two Monday nights ago scared him so badly he no longer wants to risk jumping.

Truth is, none of us seniors can do everything we used to manage easily. But I'm not sure Rupert understands that sad reality, which is why my heart aches.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Emotional Wreck!

Yesterday morning we woke to our cat barely able to stand. The problem appeared to be Rupert's left hip. In addition to not eating much the day before, we truly felt the end was near. And it still might be.

After crying most of the day, we took Rupert to the vet at 4:00 P.M. after she kindly fit us in. It turned out, however, that yesterday wasn't Rupert's last. And, I'm sure, today he's hoping for a full peaceful day of recovery.

X-rays revealed no brakes, so a soft-tissue trauma is suspected. (We think Rupert fell while jumping on the couch sometime Monday evening.) After giving Rupert two shots for pain, the vet sent us home. But, if Rupert's not much better in 48 hours, we'll face the tough questions such as trying a high-cost daily liquid pain reliever, paying hundreds more for a CT scan and MRI, or euthanasia.

Two years ago we gave up our finished walk-out basement to Rupert, where he even has his own couch. He's been ban from the main floor since he began pooping wherever he wanted. I did thorough online research to remedy the problem, and consulted two local vets. There's no fix. The kindest thing to do is find a space or room in your home where your cat can live out the rest of his days.

In all honesty, I look forward to getting our lower level back. My plan is to set up a space where the boys can be rougher and wilder, and play video games without disturbing the adults. So there will be a silver lining to Rupert's eventual passing. But the thought is still extremely sad. And why Rupert, despite the pooping problem, is not only our best but also our last pet.


Monday, July 13, 2015

(Hoping) 70s Are the New 60s

My dad retired at 62 and mom followed a year later. Living all their lives on a lower-middle-class income, they retired with a ranch home and a condo on a lake, both mortgage free. They also owned a car, truck, and pontoon boat. And, for the first eight years of retirement, they regularly took week-long bus tours, stopping at age 70 when mom's dementia took over their lives.

Point being that, for the most part, mom and dad's 60s were carefree and fun and completely funded by just their social security checks and mom's modest pension. So where did we go wrong?

We had hoped that selling the family business would give both hubby and I much more free time. I imagined daily workouts together; greater sharing of house and yard chores; and more spontaneous and planned traveling. But, sadly, it appears that dream won't come true for several more years.

Today's reality is that, until we're Medicare eligible, one of us needs to work for group healthcare. And since hubby was able to snag a managerial job at age 62, he's the one still working 50-60 hour weeks. Which means I'm still managing the home front on my own, there's no spontaneous travel, and vacation time is limited by hubby's employer.

But, worse yet, we've realized, despite savings and the fair amount we got for the family business, we need hubby's paycheck. And now we're discussing hubby pushing retirement to age 68 instead of 66.

Here are the obvious differences I see between my parents and us. Although we made three times more than my folks, we also self-paid two children through university. My folks did not support education beyond high school. We also regularly took two children to the dentist, including braces for one of them. My folks only took their children to the dentist if they were screaming in pain. After seeing what happened to my mom, we have long-term health insurance. My folks never bought long-term health insurance. But I think the biggest differences are that everything costs more now, and money doesn't grow like it used to when my folks were in their 60s.

Over the weekend I realized I need to give up the hope of living carefree in my 60s. Today's reality is pushing that dream to my 70s. And I need to stop stressing over whether or not hubby and I will still be mentally and physically fit in six years. It is what it is.

On a positive note, we have been taking better care of ourselves for much longer than my folks did. Primarily because they didn't know better. So I'm going to focus on that difference, while continuing to pray that 70s are the new 60s.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Rocky Mountains Trip Report

Yesterday we returned from our Rocky Mountains vacation. Click here to see the condo in Keystone we rented for the week.

We visited Golden, CO before checking in and, everyday after, we picked a different town to tour: Breckenridge; Morrison (Dinosaur Ridge and Red Rocks Park); Leadville (Leadville Colorado Train and National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum); Vail (Betty Ford Alpine Gardens); Frisco (Frisco's Historic Park Museum); and, on our last full day, GeorgetownIdaho Springs, and Echo Lake.

Despite struggling with the lack of oxygen at such high altitudes, we managed to log a lot of steps. My favorite effort was the climb up the Red Rocks Amphitheatre. In fact, that entire day was my favorite of the trip. I loved the guided tour of Dinosaur Ridge and the beauty of the Red Rocks.

All in all, it was a good trip and I'm happy to report I ended up losing another pound. I indulged in a few sugary treats, but I always kept my calorie count for the day between 1450 and 1550.

There's a lot to do now before our Sanibel, FL trip the end of this month, so I only have time to share a few photos. Enjoy!

Fun store in Breckenridge.
Dillon Lake near our condo rental.
Beautiful Red Rocks Park.
Real dinosaur tracks!
Me celebrating a successful climb
to the top of the Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
Hopefully gives you an idea
of the steep climb.
View around Echo Lake.
(Beautiful but, at 10,000+ feet, I was really
struggling to breath.)