March 2017

March 2017

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Garden Glow

Last night we finally saw the annual Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden. (Click here for a nice video on their website.) My daughter's family are members, so they got us free tickets, which was very nice. The weather was dry and not too cold. It was the perfect night for a walk through a winter wonderland.

Elliott (10) and Jonah (6)


Daughter, Emily, with her oldest, Elliott.


Me and hubby.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Favorite Holiday Event

Today hubby and I did the Lafayette Square Parlor Tour, an annual fundraiser for historic Lafayette Square. I look forward to this event every year. For pictures, click here.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Friday, November 18, 2016

Fantastic Beasts

All the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them promotions say the movie will premier in the US on November 18. But when I went to AMC.com to purchase the tickets, I found there would be several showings the evening of November 17. The early release, however, was missed by many because we enjoyed the newest Harry Potter film in a half-filled theater!

My short review is FB will be most enjoyed by those who have read all the Harry Potter books and/or seen the movies, several times. There were numerous references to the series, which the audience clearly loved. I also feel FB will be better enjoyed in a second viewing. The film is extremely fast-paced and I think it'll help to know what's coming. Of course, as expected, the special effects are amazing. And, with the newest technology, there is more magic in this one film than in all the other HP films combined. I won't spoil the "reveal" toward the end, although the media will do that I'm sure, but something happens that was a complete surprise to me and, apparently, the entire audience. So much fun!

I saw FB with my oldest grandson, Elliott, daughter, SIL, and son. Elliott wore his Halloween costume and was a big hit. A business marketing company was hosting a private showing for their clients and asked Elliott to pose with the full-size image they had of Newt Scamander. They then gave Elliott an official FB journal ($12.99 retail value) and bag of HP gummy slugs. Then the theater manager gave Elliott a FB poster. And one of the theater employees dressed as a Hogwarts student asked to shake Elliott's hand, showing a student's respect for a favorite author.

It was such a fun experience. And I'm so thrilled and pleased that the HP franchise is still alive and thriving. There will be five FB films with the next one due in 2018. Thank you J.K. Rowling!



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Time Is Flying!

Yes, I'm still here. Yes, I'm still blogging even though it's not been often lately. I've just been busy enjoying and dealing with life.

I've added two more classes to my weekly gym routine. After my regular 45-minute weight-resistance class on Mondays, I'm now also doing a 20-minute ab class. And I've started a 45-minute Pound class on Wednesday evenings. You wouldn't think adding just 65 minutes to my regular workout routine would impact my schedule too much, but it has. Extra travel and recovery time in addition to the actual classes takes a big bite out of my week.

I've also been watching Reya a few hours each week. I like giving her mom a break, and love spending alone time with my only granddaughter. At four months, it's nice that she's not so fragile now and can be redirected out of a fussy episode with toys, cartoons, and baby apps. It'll be even better when she can sit without props and masters gripping things. She should be at that point by Christmas, which will be nice.

We also took a long-weekend trip recently. Hubby had Veterans Day off, so we drove to Chicago. We enjoyed the China exhibit at The Field Museum; took a food/history tour of Naperville, Illinois; and had dinner with my sister's family. It was a fun getaway.

Of course, I've also been busy with holiday prep. I'm scaling way back, but there's still a lot to do and manage, starting with hosting Thanksgiving. This year, however, I've got my DIL making the potatoes and daughter making the green vegetable, which will be a big help. It's not that I can't still do it all, I just don't want to.

I've also given up the idea of having my house uber clean for the holidays this year. It just hasn't happened for several reasons, but mainly because I've been focusing on activities to pull me out of my turning-65 depression. Besides, no one will notice and the "fall" chores will still be there in January.

So, that's my update. We have a busy weekend ahead, including Reya's Christening. But yesterday I finished the bulk of my Thanksgiving grocery shopping, so I'm feeling slightly less stressed today :)


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Halloween 2016

It's been unseasonably warm here, which is draining my energy. I suppose one could call it a mild depression. Of course, turning 65 last Saturday didn't help. It was the toughest birthday I've had to date. I'll analyze why, beyond the obvious, at a later date.

In the meantime, my daughter hosted a nice Halloween and it was Reya's first. She's such an easy baby. . .just goes with the flow. I found her costume at Savers for just $1.50!




Friday, October 21, 2016

Happy 100th Day, Reya!

In the Korean culture it's customary to celebrate a baby's 100th day. Click here to learn about this tradition.

Today is Reya's 100th day, and my daughter-in-law replicated the traditional celebration as best she could. She set a beautiful table for Reya to pose behind, and we got some great pictures. Then, after the guests (me, papa, my daughter, and the boys) ate all the yummy treats, Reya fell asleep on papa's shoulder.

It was a very low key celebration, especially compared to the elaborate parties thrown in Korea. But at least Reya's 100th day was marked.

Happy 100th Day, sweet Reya!






Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bad Reaction

A week ago yesterday afternoon, I received the shingles, flu, and pneumonia vaccines. By Wednesday night, I was severely sick – fever, chills, overall body ache, and major headache. It continued, with minimal improvement, for two and a half days. I was literally bedridden Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning. After getting out of bed at noon Saturday, I appeared to be back to normal. But, actually, it wasn't until today that I felt 100 percent again.

Of course I did a lot of research on all three vaccines. If the shingles shot had been the problem, there would have been a rash. The flu shot rarely causes problems and, personally, I've never had an issue with it. So that leaves the pneumonia vaccine, which has been reported to cause problems for a small percentage of recepients.

I experienced all the possible side effects of the pneumonia vaccine at full force. It really hit me hard. Looking ahead, I'm extremely concerned about getting the booster in 5-10 years. But, for now, I'm just glad to be back amoung the living!


Saturday, October 1, 2016

Best of Missouri Market

Despite the heavy crowd, I think it's safe to say the entire family had a fun time at the Best of Missouri Market. The rain stayed away and the temperatures were in the low 60s.

Reya only wimpered once when she needed to be changed. The rest of the time, when not eating or napping, she seemed very curious, always looking around.

We have many more fall activities planned for the month of October. Hopefully, they'll all go as well as today's did!

Oldest grandchild, Elliott (10 years), pushing
newest grandchild, Reya (10 weeks).
My favorite! Momma holding
Reya as she sports her new
aplaca hat bought at the Market. 
Almost caught a full-on smile!
(My son loves to baby-carry!)
Elliott (10) and Jonah (6), our grownup
grandsons.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Update

I know it's been awhile. Since my last post, I was down with a virus for a week before we left on vacation. Then hubby and I were touring Seattle and the surrounding area for nine days. We had a great time and I plan to post some pictures soon.

This week I've been busy helping my son's family as they now deal with the virus; doing laundry; grocery shopping; meal planning and preparing; and working out more. While on vacation, hubby and I averaged five miles of walking everyday and I felt much stronger as a result. So I've been working on keeping up that pace, walking when not at the gym for a 50+ class. So far so good. Currently I'm at 8,986 daily steps for the week.

Thankfully, we've had fall temperatures all week, making neighborhood walks much more enjoyable. Tomorrow the entire family's going to the Best of Missouri Market at the Missouri Botanical Garden and the weather should be perfect, mid-60s. As long as the rain is minimal, it'll be a fun day filled with photo opportunities with all three grandchildren.

In the meantime, I had to share this photo my daughter took today of Reya eying her first stuffed pumpkin. At 10 weeks, Reya's healthy and strong, and cuter everyday. We are blessed!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

8 Weeks 2 Days

Reya at 8 weeks 2 days.
For seven years, I thought I was going to be blessed with only two grandchildren, both boys. And, if my son and DIL ever had a child, I never imagined they'd live within a five-minute drive from our house.

But now I have proof that, even at my age, good unexpected changes can happen. Nearly everyday now I get to see and love on this sweet addition to our family. Granddaughter Reya is pure joy.


Thursday, September 8, 2016

86 Years Old

After school on Monday,
the boys and I surprised
dad with gifts and a cake.
Tomorrow my dad turns 86. No one, including him, thought he would live this long. But, not only is he still alive, he's also still living on his own, driving, shopping, cooking, and maintaining a house and yard.

Unfortunately, I can't say dad is mostly happy. Truth is I believe he's mostly sad. Sad that mom's gone. Sad he can't physically do what he used to do easily. He's also always in worry mode. Worries about money. (He has plenty.) Worries about home maintenance. (He easily can afford to pay for whatever needs to be done.) Worries about health issues. (He has very little and nothing terminal.)

Looking at dad I have to wonder how I'll be at 86 if I make it that long. I'm sure there will be similarities. But one big difference between dad and me is I'm much closer to my children and grandchildren, which I pray will make my 80s much less lonely.


Thursday, September 1, 2016

New Seasonal/Holiday Decor System

I love to decorate for the various seasons and holidays, especially fall and Halloween. But, each year, I've grown more weary of hauling storage bins up and down the basement stairs, even though I've purged nearly half of my collections over the last couple of years. I used to say if I had an extra bedroom I'd make it my holiday decor storage space. But, truth is, after the purges, I don't need a whole room, just a small space.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I watched a YouTube video that changed my life. It was a share of a woman's new storage system for holiday home decor. Except for Christmas, she had down-sized all of her seasonal and holiday decor to fit into an average chest of drawers.

While I'm not ready to go that extreme, it gave me the idea to do the same with the closet at the end of our hallway. It's supposed to be a linen closet, but I've always used it for miscellaneous items, all of which we rarely needed and could easily be stored in the basement. Now that closet holds all my seasonal decor. One shelf for fall; one shelf for summer; one shelf for winter and spring. And I still have the bottom shelf for cleaning supplies.

I just switched out my summer decor for fall and Halloween and can't believe how fast and easy it was. Besides not having to lug my summer items downstairs, I didn't have to bubble wrap breakables and carefully place them in storage containers. I just moved them to their designated shelf in the hall closet. Sweet!

Another plus is I'll now be able to see all my beautiful and cute holiday decor anytime I need a lift by just opening the closet door. For example, in the dead of winter it might be nice to take a peek at my spring bunnies and summer seashells.

There's no room for Christmas in the hall closet, but that's OK. Lugging bins up and down the stairs once a year sure beats doing it five times a year!


Friday, August 26, 2016

Hollarlujah!

In case you haven't heard about this bargain site, you might want to check it out. I just finished 95% of my holiday shopping!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Disappearance

Last winter I was so eager to see the newest season of Doc Martin I did a 30-day free trial with Acorn.TV. I was then able to see all the episodes of Doc Martin's seventh season well before the US release on PBS and with no annoying fundraising.

After watching Doc Martin, I took a closer look at what else Acorn.TV had to offer. Fast-forward nine months and Acorn.TV is now my first choice when looking for a new series to watch.

Last night I finished one of Acorn.TV's newest releases, The Disappearance. It's a French television series with English subtitles, but well worth the inconvenience. Since I never just watch television, always multitasking instead, a show with subtitles is impossible to enjoy on our big screen. But since I mainly enjoy Acorn.TV while lying in bed with my iPad, watching The Disappearance wasn't a problem.

If you have Acorn.TV, or are looking for a new entertainment source, I highly recommend The Disappearance. As the series progressed, I was more and more impressed with the acting, especially the mother's performance. And I really enjoyed the two main detectives.

I'm not sure there will be a second season of The Disappearance. But if there is I'll be binge watching for sure. In the meantime, there's much more for me to discover on Acorn.TV.



Tuesday, August 16, 2016

I'm a Thrifter!

I used to hate going to thrift shops for anything. I was mainly turned off by the smell. But after watching hours of thrifters on YouTube, and seeing the bargains my son and DIL scored at Savers when they first moved here, I just had to give it another try. And a few weeks ago was the ideal time to "test the waters."

During Tax Free weekend, Savers ran a Summer Special. All purchases were half off in addition to not being taxed. I ended up with a pair of black crop pants, a basic tee, and two flyaway cardigans for just $20. And all pieces were name brands from either a department store or boutique. It's been too warm for me to enjoy the cardigans, but the crop pants have quickly become a favorite. Needless to say, it was a successful experiment and I'm no longer anti-thrifting.

On Tuesdays Savers gives a 30% discount to seniors (55 and over). Since today's the first day of school, I knew it wouldn't be crowded, so decided to thrift. I just returned with a Gap loose-fit pullover and Hanes long-sleeve stripe t-shirt, all for a whooping $8.

I know I won't be able to get my entire fall wardrobe from thrift stores. But I'm now convinced I'll definitely be able to save big on several items. And that means my fall-wardrobe budget has just been cut in half!



Saturday, August 13, 2016

Museum of Science + Industry Chicago

I'm happy, and relieved, to say hubby and I survived our two-night trip to Chicago with both grandsons. We drove up on Wednesday, stopping in Springfield, IL for lunch and Normal, IL for ice cream. Then, after arriving at the Hampton Inn and Suites Bolingbrook around 5:00 PM, the boys swam before dinner.

I had previously decided we would hit a grocery store for dinner, bringing food back to the hotel for a relaxed meal. I knew it would be cheaper and I could insist each boy pick out some vegetables and fruits. Well, as luck would have it, there was an Aldi less than a five-minute drive from the hotel. And the boys actually had fun picking out what they wanted. We had a smorgasbord of deli turkey, American cheese, summer sausage, baby carrots, blueberries, strawberries, and apple sauce. Success!

The next morning, after the included breakfast at the hotel, we headed to the Museum of Science + Industry where the boys had a blast. In addition to enjoying several of the regular hands-on exhibits, we did two of the special experiences, Brick by Brick and 3D Printing.

After seven hours at the museum, we were ready to relax and decided on another in-room dinner. We stopped at Burger King for burgers and Aldi for more fruit and vegetables.

So the first two days of our trip were a complete success. It was on day three, during the drive home, that things fell apart.

I swear Jonah is Jekyll and Hyde. When he's good he's so much fun to be around, sweet and so smart. Then, for no acceptable reason, he becomes rude, disrespectful, mean, and disobedient. And that's the Jonah we got going home. It got so bad at one point that hubby pulled off the highway and I physically pulled Jonah from the car for a timeout. Of course, by the time we got home, I was exhausted from being so annoyed and Jonah acted as if nothing had happened.

But, since being home, we've had a lot of Reya time. And, that quickly, all's right with my world again :)

MSI is filled with exhibits
that encourage close-up
experiences.
In the transportation area, there's a model
train display showing the trip from
Chicago to Seattle.
Learning about tornados.
Part of Brick by Brick was
the opportunity to create your
own design.
The American Eagle roller coaster
at Six Flags Gurnee, IL made
of Lego bricks.
Elliott's brick design.
Jonah watching the creature
he designed using CAD software
being 3D printed.
My creature :)
Almost as cool as 3D printing
was designing a top and then
watching it being imprinted,
assembled, and packaged
in the Toymaker 3000 exhibit. 
Jonah loved the mirror maze
in the Numbers in Nature exhibit.
Just 4-weeks old, our sweet
and beautiful Reya can
now do this!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

End of Month Surplus

Putting myself on a spending diet for the month of July worked out well. I managed to save $400 by not spending more than $5.00 for unnecessary items, and doing more home cooking on the weekends.

That $400 will come in handy for a short trip we have planned this month. Hubby and I are taking our grandsons to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. We've been there twice and know the boys will love it. We'll drive up one day, visit the museum the next day, and drive home the third day.

The trip will take place when my daughter, a teacher, returns to work before classes begin. Those three days are always a challenge as far as finding people to watch the boys. I, for one, will not watch both boys without help. Fortunately, this year hubby was able to take the days off work.

The next challenge is finding things to do that appeal to two boys four years apart in age. And they've already hit all the tourist spots in St. Louis with one or both parents this summer. In my mind all that's left is a short road trip, preferably to some place with good AC.

But it's our first time traveling with the boys without their parents, and I'm a little anxious. I'm not worried about the 10-year-old. It's the sometimes moody six-year-old who could cause problems. At least I won't be outnumbered!



Sunday, July 24, 2016

Reya Update

It appears God answered my prayers and blessed us with a healthy happy baby. There's absolutely no sign of colic or acid reflux. Plus Reya's a good sleeper who doesn't even need swaddling!

Approximately every 2-3 hours, Reya cries mildly, signaling a need to be fed. After being changed, fed, and changed, again, she easily falls back asleep whether held or placed in her bassinet. And she already appears to understand night versus day. Her longest periods between feedings are at night. And her longest periods of observing the world around her after a feeding are during the day.

Of course, it's still early days. But since by now both of our grandsons were struggling with either colic or acid reflux, we're feeling encouraged Reya will continue to be our easy grandchild. And, as a bonus, she's absolutely beautiful!


Monday, July 18, 2016

Drum Roll Please!

Our granddaughter finally has a name – Reya (ray-a) Booni (boon-E) Gerken – and I love it!

Booni was the name of Reya's maternal great-grandmother, so speaks to her Korean heritage. I don't know where Reya came from, but I love its nod to current pop culture. For those who don't know, Rey was the strong woman character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I find that perfect since Reya's dad was a big Star Wars fan as a child. He still has several large plastic tubs filled with, now vintage, Star Wars toys.

I'm just so thrilled about granddaughter's name. Some of the names considered where hard to pronounce, spell, and/or just plain bad. Thank you God!

The new family came home today. Reya still needs the Bilibed due to a little jaundice, but should come off it in a day or two. It's so great that there are now portable beds that can go home with baby. When I had babies, a jaundice infant could only be treated in the hospital, so it sometimes extended their stay.

Thankfully, so far Reya is fine with sleeping on her own, so doesn't mind the Bilibed. It's harder on her parents and grandparents because she can't be cuddled. She can only be off the bed a maximum of 30 minutes each feeding. She goes back to the hospital in the morning to have her numbers checked. I'm hoping she'll be released from the bed then because grandma needs much more cuddle time.

Mom is doing great, almost too well. She has to keep reminding herself she's recovering from surgery and needs to take it easy. But she's just so thrilled to no longer be suffering with the nausea she had her entire pregnancy.

Dad is behaving like an overprotective new father, something I never expected. He's done 98% of the diaper changes; is constantly concerned about Reya's temperature and comfort; and can't stand to be away from her, even for a quick shower. Frankly, he's driving us a bit crazy, but I much prefer this behavior over him leaving it all up to mom. And I'm sure he'll calm down eventually.

So it's all good and I'm very grateful :)

I decorated the new family's front doors
for the homecoming thanks to Dollar Tree.
Here's Reya ready for her first car ride.
And here she is chilling on the Bilibed
at home. See how stressed she is after
going through discharge and being strapped
in a car seat? *LOL* So far so good!



Sunday, July 17, 2016

Oldest Grandson Meets Granddaughter

Today our granddaughter met her oldest cousin, Elliott. These pictures make my heart burst with love!

(FYI: Last I heard, granddaughter's name's been decided,
but now the parents are working on the spelling.)





Thursday, July 14, 2016

Happy Birthday, Granddaughter!

Our granddaughter was born today via c-section – 8 pounds 7 ounces and 19.2 inches long. She's healthy and beautiful, and I'm so grateful. Mom is also doing well.

The parents promise to decide on a name tomorrow. In the meantime, here are some birthday shots of our sweet baby girl.

Proud daddy!
Her eyes are a little Asian,
but she mostly looks like my son.


Happy grandma!