Tuesday, December 29

Passing the Buck

...Or change actually. Meet Star. She is a 20-something purple pot belly who has a taste for metal. It has become tradition, really, that every Christmas when Grandpa Barnes comes to visit he brings Star full of change collected throughout the year. Then I empty the change through her slightly-too-small hole, send her back and sure enough the following Christmas she is full again.

After 20 years of practice I can empty this baby in about 35 minutes -- a huge improvement from the several hours it used to take me. Yes, practice really does make perfect. I have this down to such I science, I even know which spoons work best (ice cream) and which ones are wasting time (soup), and now, I'm passing the ritual on to Nora.

Last night we emptied her. Nora was so helpful, carefully picking up any coins I dropped and throwing them in the bucket. She didn't even try to eat any! Tomorrow, we'll take the change to the bank to see how much we have to open Nora's first savings account.

Monday, December 28

13 Steps to a Better Life

Don't worry - Christmas updates coming soon, I'm just tracking down a few more photos before I post.

In the mean time, check out this article from one of my new favorite blogs, Get Rich Slowly. It's not a new post, but it's timely; I'm going to use this list as the basis for my New Year's resolutions. Hopefully, you'll find it as inspiring as I did.

Monday, December 21

How to Enjoy the Holidays

Oops! I actually meant to post this on my other blog, but I'll leave it up since I guess it can apply to both audiences!

The holidays are supposed to be a joyful time full of cheer and good company; but for many, it becomes a source of stress or even depression. Stress over money, too much to do, too little time, family squabbles, lost loved ones...stress.

What I love about Christmas is that it is one of 3 days the hubby and I have off together all year. Sure we spend it hopping from one house to another delivering gifts like Santa and eating an amount comparable to what normal people eat in 2-3 days, but we get to spend time together and I try to drink in every minute.

Now granted, I tend to be a pretty logical, see-the-bigger-picture type of person so what works for me may not work for everyone, I wanted to share what I do to keep stress to a minimum.

1) Stay out of the drama. Families will bicker, shoppers are rude, relatives will complain, and someone will get left out. That's how it is and how it will always be. Don't push back, don't feed the fire, just let it go and spend more time with those who make good company.

2) Don't try to please everyone. As Scrooge-ish as it may sound, I've learned is that you can't please everyone. Sometimes the right thing to do is to make it about you. Now that we have N, I no longer feel guilty making a decision based on what is best for me rather than what everyone wants or what we would normally do.

3) Budget. And stick to it. The bottom line is you shouldn't give more than you can afford. Where is the joy in giving if it stresses you out? What friend or relative would enjoy getting a gift that means you have to go into debt to purchase it? Homemade gifts are usually most appreciated and happen to be budget friendly, too.

Not crafty? Give a coupon for a free sitter, lunch date, or shopping day. Close friends will appreciate spending time with you more than a material gift anyway. If you're big on gift giving and have a lot of people to buy for, put a set amount away every month beginning in January so come December it doesn't feel like such a financial burden.

4) Say thanks. Take time to reflect on your blessings. Remind those around you that you love and appreciate them. Don't let the past get you down.

5) Say no. You don't have to attend every party/meal/gathering you're invited to. This time of year is chaotic for everyone, and your friends will understand if you can't make it. Make it up to the host by inviting them to do something once life returns to normal. Why do we have to pack everything into 2 days of the year? If it's a close friend, plan to exchange gifts at your after-Christmas gathering.

6) Breathe. Just breathe.

Do you find yourself stressed during the holidays? What do you do to minimize the emotional impact of the hustle and bustle?

Wednesday, December 16

Learning to Share...Or Not.

Corrinne brought over her new Baby Alive doll on Saturday, which, if you're not familiar, is a doll that eats and drinks (loudly) and then pees and you have to change the diaper. Nora luurrrved it! At first she was content just sitting on Corrinne's lap, but after a while she got the hang of it and no one else was allowed to touch her new toy -- ah, the joys of toddlerhood.

Saturday, December 12

Nora, Meet Ora

It seems I've become more eager for N to open her presents than I am to open my own -- even if I didn't get them for her!

Before we left Des Moines, Aunt Shannon brought over a present for N, and I assured her we'd put it under the tree and have her wait til Christmas to open it. Last night, I decided she'd waited long enough...

Apparently Teau was anxious as well

Digging in

This is Ora. She was born on Sept. 9...good thing it wasn't the 16th because that would be creepy.

Kisses. Oh and N can say "baby" now. She kept hugging Ora and saying "baby" while patting her on the back!

PS. Nora says "Thanks Aunt Shannon!"

Friday, December 11

Thanksgiving Catch Up

Some (and by some I mean very few - people aren't lying when they say you quit taking so many photos after the first year!) photos of our fab turkey day and moving preparations.

Nora packing her toys

Love this grin

Cooking TG side dish

What a shrimp

She already knows how to work the pouty face

The dog whisperer

Friday, December 4

Ah Friday!

Many apologies for the lack of photos and updates lately. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of good food and lots of family. Unfortunately, Charlie stayed home since he had to work at 4 a.m., but other than that it was good. Oh, and I may have strained some muscles in my shoulder beating everyone in Wii tennis.

We closed on the new house on Tuesday. We had a little bit of a hiccup and closed a couple hours late, but better hours than days! Wrigley and Chateau got to explore their new neighborhood after a friends dad thought some stray dogs let themselves into the yard and then got locked in ::puzzled face:: ...three hours later Charlie found them a couple blocks away still together and covered in animal feces -- but safe none-the-less.

I had to come back to Des Moines to finish out the week at work here. Our company holiday party is tonight and after that I'm free to go. I'll start at the Davenport office on Tuesday; Charlie returns to work Sunday. Sure am missing my Bear though -- this is definitely the longest we've ever been apart. Charlie is coming up for the party, so tonight is also the first time N has ever been away from both of us overnight! She's staying with Mimi though, and I think they'll have fun.

Off to work -- see ya'll soon!

Thursday, November 26

Trading Traditions Part 4: Giving More Than Gifts

First, I'd just like to note that while we are finishing up our packing this weekend and will be staying in Des Moines for Thanksgiving, this is the last holiday we will be spending away from family. Come Christmas we'll be settled and ready for the chaos to begin! And in future years, Charlie's 18-hour Black Friday schedule will no longer prevent us from having turkey dinner with those we are most thankful for.

This is part 4 of a four part entry on holiday traditions. I found this one to be highly appropriate for a Thanksgiving entry. I'd love for you to comment and share your favorite traditions of holidays past and the ones you want to start with your little ones in years to come.

Part 1: Christmas on Christmas Eve
Part 2: Back to the Basics
Part 3: A Toy for a Toy

4) Giving More Than Gifts. It's true the holiday's are a time of giving, but people are in need of much more than presents under the tree. Each December we are going to choose a place to volunteer as a family. Donating our time allows us a way to get out together during a season that usually encourages staying in and provides an opportunity for reflecting on how blessed we are to have what we have. Maybe we'll find a favorite place to volunteer each year or maybe we'll use the opportunity to help someone new -- what's important is that we are using our time to better the community in which we live and give gifts of food, hope, and warmth to those who do not have basic necessities.

Happy Thanksgiving all. See you soon!

Wednesday, November 25

Trading Traditions Part 3: A Toy for a Toy

This is part 3 of a four part entry on holiday traditions. I'd love for you to comment and share your favorite traditions of holidays past and the ones you want to start with your little ones in years to come.

Part 1: Christmas on Christmas Eve
Part 2: Back to the Basics

3) A Toy for a Toy. Much like an eye for an eye, for each gift Nora receives we plan to encourage her to pick one to give to kids in need. A new toy can replace an old one she doesn't play with anymore, and a new outfit can fill the hangar of clothes she has outgrown. Since they are her belongings, she also will get to pick which charity or organization she would like them to go to.

Tuesday, November 24

Trading Traditions Part 2: Back to the Basics

This is part 2 of a four part entry on holiday traditions. I'd love for you to comment and share your favorite traditions of holidays past and the ones you want to start with your little ones in years to come.

Part 1: Christmas on Christmas Eve

2) Back to the Basics. We have decided we don't want to overdo the consumerism side of holiday giving. I have no doubt in my mind that I will never be able to persuade our families to tone-down the gift giving because, well at 23 I'm still poked and prodded for a Christmas list every year despite my insistance that it is no longer necessary to spoil me rotten. Absurd amounts of gifts under the tree is just what they do (and hey, I'm not complainin!); however, at home, we have decided we prefer to just stuff stockings and then give one other very special gift. In part, this new tradition (and the one coming in #3) is inspired by our 625-square-foot house and the need to keep it simple, but I'm also hoping minimizing the materialistic aspect and broadening the act of giving will have a positive impact on her as she grows and learns what the holiday's are really about.

to be continued...

Monday, November 23

Trading Traditions Part 1: Christmas on Christmas Eve

I'm a planner. I'm a planner by trade and a planner by nature. I plan everything. I love the idea of spontaneity, but in reality it's stressful for me not to know what's going to happen next. Everything I do has a list; half the time my lists have lists.

This compulsive mindset carries over into my parenting frequently. I feel like I need to plan every week, decision, change, and lately, traditions, ahead of time. I can't help it. So with the holiday's fast approaching I've been doing a lot of thinking (read: planning) about how I hope to convey the meaning of the holidays and Christmas to Nora. This thinking has since translated into a list of traditions I would like to carry on and start with her each holiday season.

To spare you from having to spend a whole day reading my ramblings, I would like to share my list in four parts over the next four days as we lead into Thanksgiving. I'd love for you to comment and share your favorite traditions of holidays past and the ones you want to start with your little ones in years to come.

1) Chrismas on Christmas Eve. Growing up we always had so.much.to.do. that trying to fit everyone into one day of feasting and gift devouring just wasn't possible. Thus, we started celebrating at home on Christmas Eve. Of course the actual reason was because Santa couldn't possibly make it to everyone's house in one night so he had to visit us early, but I kind of get the side eye when I tell people that so my cover is that we just didn't have time to do it all in one day. Since Nora has inherited my HUGE multi-sided family and the Buskirks, we're most definitely going to have to continue the 2-day celebration tradition. Plus, as a kid, it's pretty cool to tell all your friends you get to open presents a day early.

to be continued...

Friday, November 20

15 Month Checkup...A Little Early

Nora had her 15 month checkup (and shots ::sad face::) today. I realize she just turned 14 months on Monday, but I needed to buy some time before I would have to find a new pediatrition in Davenport so I asked if they would see her early since she hadn't had shots since her 9 month appointment due to our alternate vaccination schedule.

She weighed in at 21 pounds 15 oz and measured 30 inches long. Small weight gain from her last appointment, but boy has she gotten taller! She is right about the 50th percentile in both categories.

Wednesday, November 18

Word-ful Wednesday

My yoga instructor read this poem to my prenatal yoga class while I was pregnant with Nora. I loved it. I still love it. I even quoted the poem on a page of Nora's baby book.

It is inspiring, and at the same time, makes me reflect on my own birth experience and I feel defeated for not being able to have the type of birth I dreamt of. My birth was not empowering, in fact quite opposite. Words that come to mind for me are: Unnecessary. Premature. Belittling. Helpless. Abrupt...

In the past two years, I have grown from a girl who thought birth and anything related to it was gross to a woman who feels passionate about women's rights in birthing and the over-medicalized process it has become. Women shouldn't have to grieve their birth experiences; but I did - I am. It makes me angry every time I think about it. I want to help other women have the birth they long for because the guilt, sorrow, and and disappointment doesn't go away just because the baby was healthy. This poem is a strong representation of the empowerment that was once (and should still be!) embraced by mothers, and I couldn't have said it better myself.

To My Daughters
I’ll tell you about power:
We are born with the potential for every daughter we will ever have
embedded like pearls in the dark flesh or our ovaries.
You were already there, in me,
While I was yet curled within my mother, as she was, inside my great-grandmother;
each mother birthing her grandchildren
through her pelvis,
ivory cradles protecting secret worlds
within our own seas,
worlds of fierce hearts and minds beyond knowing.
Is there a greater power than holding the entire
universe in your belly?
All of Creation? What about our own galaxies pouring forth?
The summoning of all that is love
And alive into our very breasts, our marrow,
Our coursing blood, and luminous milky way
So bright it blinds, with all the power and force of life,
heaven meeting earth, giving to those worlds we hold,
That we see in the irises of our daughters’ eyes

Friday, November 13

18 Days til Moving Day

And all I have left to do is pack all of our belongings, change the address on all of our bills, finish making all my Christmas presents (have one started of like 13), sell another 2/3 of my furniture that isn't going to fit in the new place, pick up our medical records, pack my stuff at work and fill out a move request - oh and I guess finding an office space would be helpful too, find Nora a day care and a pediatrician, and find a truck to rent. After that I guess we're in good shape.

P.S. Is my baby (ahem, toddler) really going to be 14 months on Monday?!?

Wednesday, November 11

Wordless Wednesday: Honoring Those Who Serve

Happy Veteran's Day!

Monday, November 9

The Baugh's Are Coming Home!

Closing date is set for Dec. 1 -- be sure to include us in your Christmas planning!

We'll be downsizing from 2300 square feet to 625, but we're so happy to be moving back to the QC that we can make it work. Here are some photos of our new shoebox-sized home ;)

Sunday, November 8

We Caught a Poo!

If you recall, we started doing EC about a month and a half ago. Admittedly, we haven't been as committed as we were right in the start, but the great thing about EC is that it doesn't have to be all or nothing and it's OK to take breaks.

A typical week for us consists of sitting on the potty maybe 5 or 6 times. Sometimes we have catches, sometimes we don't. We seem to have the best luck in the mornings, but we have had catches other times too -- Nora has definitely gained awareness of when she's going, which is the first, and most important, step. Up until now, we had only been catching pees, but today we caught our first poo!

Sometimes I second guess myself and think that this is all too soon, but now I feel reassured that this is the right choice for us. She's so proud of herself when she has a catch, and I tell you what, cleaning a baby bottom after a catch is significantly less time consuming than changing a diaper -- not to mention less of a power struggle. Our bear is growing up so fast :(

Saturday, November 7

Fall Fun

Can you guess what month these photos were taken?

If you said November, you're spot on! These were taken at the park today...it is an unseasonably warm 75 degrees and sunny today, and we're enjoying it to the fullest.

Nora did get a little overly excited and skin her knee while attempting to run. She cried momentarily, then she was over it and on to eating rocks.

And as usual, we got some mommy-Nora photos too (hey, if I don't take them, who will?).

Saturday, October 31

More Halloween Fun: No Words Necessary!

Happy Halloween!

Since it was cold and rainy, we opted not to trick-or-treat or hand out candy...instead we packed up our little flower and went out for a celebratory dinner with Daddy's birthday gift card. Oh yeah, did I mention we bought a house yesterday?!? We will be home to stay in early December -- just in time to spend Christmas with our family.

Nora had 2 Halloween outfits, so appropriately, she wore one during the day and one out to dinner. Note to self: Next time we have 2 to choose from, the one that is able to be washed should be the one worn to dinner.

::costume change::
Nora has a Baby Einstein book we read, and every time we get to the page with a flower on it, she smells the page. So last night when we got dressed up and looked in the mirror, I told her "Look Nora is a flower!" and she leaned in and smelled her reflection -- did I mention my kid is smart?!?

At dinner, an older couple stopped to coo at Nora as they were leaving. The old man looked to me and said, "She's so good! Must be a breastfed baby." I didn't confirm or deny, but I was beaming inside.

Wednesday, October 28

Monday, October 26

Catchin Up

Have you missed us? Sorry to keep you in the dark -- lots going on lately.

First and foremost, we got an offer on the house! The buyers want to take possession Jan. 1, so I'm frantically searching for a place for us to live (if you know of anywhere, I'm open to suggestions!) and I got a good start on packing already.

Nora is constantly on the go. Her new favorite venture is sprinting for the stairs every time we turn our heads, and our less-than-ideal staircase doesn't really allow for a gate of any kind -- definitely keeping us on our toes.

She's becoming quite the problem solver. In addition to climbing the stairs, she has also learned that if she goes up to the kitchen landing she can crawl onto the couch, which puts her at perfect height to snatch halloween candy from the bucket on the sofa table behind the couch.

Daddy returned from the QC with a beautiful tutu and some yummy homemade applesauce from Nana Buskirk.

Nora recently learned how to brush her fuzz. She brushes her teeth every night before bed too.

We just got back yesterday from a weekend in Missouri. Mimi, Nora and I drove down to visit Grandpa Barnes in the Ozarks. It was a lot of driving, but well worth it! Sure wish Grandpa could be closer :( I think he enjoyed his time with Nora though.

Now we're off to bed