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!