Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

1) It's 2010 and I keep writing 2011...every single time. Bet it will take me well into February to remember! I can't even believe that it's already 2011 or that January feels like it's already almost half gone! Seriously, January is already kicking my butt at work. It's insane!

2) We had a wonderful Christmas! It was so much fun sharing Harris' first Christmas. He got a million and one toys, with one family Christmas still to go next week. It's a bit ridiculous. The "Baby Things" toy box that sat in front of our fireplace was barely full before Christmas. Now, there are toys the entire length of the hearth. Cleary we need a toy management system for our living room!

3) LMH's daycare is closed the week between Christmas and New Year. Yes I know that this is sort of strange. But, essential his montessori daycare is also a preschool that has a traditional holiday vacation for kids and staff. All my vacation was used up on maternity leave this year, and The Hubby is in the midst of a ginormous (neverending) project at work. Thankfully, my mom was able to take off that week to watch LMH for us. It was so very nice having her with us all last week. And, I know she enjoyed all of the one-on-one time with LMH. Going forward, Hubby and I could totally plan to take off vacation that week, but Nana has already called this as her annual LMH week!

4) I have a four day workweek this week, since Friday is my flex day. Next week will be the first in at least three weeks that I'll be expected to work a full five day workweek. I'm already dreading it. Between flex days and holidays I'm royally spoiled right now.

5) Remember a year ago when I was soooo excited to get my (crappy) Palm Pre? Well, it sucked...way more than the Blackberry Pearl that I thought sucked back then! Ok, to be more accurate, the Pre and WebOS has tons of unfilfilled promise, but for the time period I had it, it sucked. The app market was exceedingly sparse, updates few and far between, and the physical build quality subpar. I had high hopes for my Pre, but in the end, I pretty much squealed with delight when I opened my shiny new T-Mobile G2 on Christmas morning! I LOVE this thing! I really had know idea just how much my Pre sucked until I got the G2. It rocks!

6) Honestly, I'm fairly certain that phone is inreasing my productivity, too! Right at the end of 2010, I was scrambling to finish my annual performance goals at work. I had to read this book by David Allen called "Getting Things Done." The book was just ok...really jargon heavy and kind of outdated, because it focused mainly on a paper-based organization system. However, after some time with Google, I found so many great tips for how to incorporate the Getting Things Done system into my daily routine...and a lot of them had to do with productivity apps for my phone (Astrid Tasks, Evernote, Remember the Milk, etc.). I've been using them since Christmas and am totally loving it!

7) At the same time, it's a bit of a double-edged sword. Seeing a comprehensive list of all of my projects, personal and work, is a bit (maybe a lot) overwhelming! And, it's even more so when so many of them remain undone and untouched each day. There just really aren't enough hours in the day! I guess I need to learn how to ignore what I can't work on and just focus on what I'm working on at the time.

8) Ha! That was funny. If you've been reading any time at all, you knkow that's pretty much the antithesis of my personality. Don't see me learning how to change that one anytime soon!

9) LMH will be five months old tomorrow! I can't believe. Time is truly flying by. I've always heard people say that "it goes so fast," but I truly had no idea! It feels like he's already gone from newborn to little boy in the blink of an eye!

10) Remember what seems like months ago when I mentioned that I'd be unveling a new blog project soon? Well, soon is finally here and I'm sooooo excited! I'm hoping to have the new blog, Mom in Orbit, up and running by this weekend. And, I'm looking forward to sharing it with all of you! In the meantime, here's a sneak peek:

Friday, December 24, 2010

It's Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas

We made the trek home to Arkansas on Wednesday. It was actually quite the trek...I felt a bit like Santa on his cross-country flight! The Hubby, LMH and the dogs drove to Arkansas on Wednesday. I would have driven with them except 1) I had to work (minor details) and 2) one of us had to take Hubby's dad to the airport for his 6pm flight.

Rather than us all driving together after dropping him off at the airport, we split up and conquered things separately. I got off work (near Dallas Love Field), drove home (35 minutes north), took Hubby's dad to the other airport (DFW 40 minutes east), back to Love Field for my own flight, landed in Little Rock, did some Christmas shopping and then finally home to Hot Springs 40 minutes east. Whew! Makes me tired just writing it!

Once we got here, Hubby FINALLY told me what he wanted for Christmas. Can we say late much? He suggested the following: a new suitcase, noise cancelling headphones, one of those "e-reader things." Hubby went WAY overboard for Christmas this year, so my budget for him is not terribly large. The suitcase he's had his eye on (360 degree wheels and an ergo handle)  is too expensive, as are Bose noise canceling headphones. That leaves the e-reader.

Ironically, my mom is also getting an e-reader for Christmas from my dad...a Nook Color. Hubby will be getting a plain Nook. Mom should enjoy the tablet-PC "light" features of her Nook Color. But, Hubby, who has a smartphone, desktop and laptop should appreciate having a dedicated e-reader. Well, at least that's my hope. I was a little worried that it might be a downer for one to open the fancy Nook Color and the other to open a plain Nook. But, I think that they both serve each others' needs perfectly. Plus, they can lend each other books.

Santa will be bringing LMH a bunch of "sit up and play" toys as he is soooo very close to being able to sit up like a champ. Well, and Nana has some awesome surprise for him that she won't let me in on. There's a Laugh & Learn Kitchen under the tree for him and a My Pal Scout. I can't wait to see him interact with Scout. I think he'll be able to do that right away, though the kitchen may take him a bit longer to get the hang of.

As much fun as I have planning the perfect gifts for my family, it's the Christmas traditions that make it perfect. Tonight is our annual trek to Mama & Papa's for Christmas Eve festivities. The first of many Christmas traditions that we get to share with LMH this year. Christmas Eve sugar cookie baking, reading our favorite Christmas stories, opening one present (an ornament) before going to sleep, waking up and waiting for the okay to head downstairs. No matter how old I get, I still take such joy in these traditions. This year, it's so much more meaningful. I've already started to contemplate what traditions we'll be starting just for LMH...Christmas Eve PJs are high on the list.

Soon our Christmas locale will switch to our home in Dallas, instead of my parents. I'm excited for the change, but I'll miss Christmas' here, too. Christmas is all about coming home for me, all about being a kid again, all about giving and sharing. It's such a joy and a blessing to share all of these things with LMH this year. A year ago, I could hardly believe that he was actually baking away inside me. This year he's here in all his perfection.

I'm in awe of our blessings...despite all of the fun in giving and receiving, baking, stories, family, etc., in LMH I'm reminded of true meaning of Christmas. Thanks be to God.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Santa Goes High Tech

This weekend we completed a right of passage: LMH's first trip to see Santa. I was concerned that it might not happen, though...or at least that Daddy might not be joining us. You see, The Hubby hates line. No, actually he despises, detests and HATES lines. Long lines tend to aggravate his anxiety. And, since no one wants that, I end up despising lines, too.  The trouble is that I like the things that happen at the end of long lines...like Santa.

I had been contemplating how we were going to accomplish this might feat for awhile now. So long that we ended up waiting until the week before Christmas to make our first attempt. Probably not the smartest plan. There are two malls near us with "traditional" Santas. I figured that I could wait in line with LMH and call Hubby when our turn was near. Effective, but not exactly fun for anyone.

There were two other options, though. Northpark Mall in Dallas has a ticket program (think FastPass for Santa), where you go when the mall opens, get your ticket and then hang around (or come back) when it's your time period. That seemed like a good option except for two things: 1) It's a bit of a trek into downtown Dallas from our BFE north suburb, 2) we're not exactly the "be at the mall at 9am" type.

The next option was "The Big Guy" at The Villages at Allen. The Villages do something truly ingenious! They have an online queuing system for Santa. You go online to their website, check the overall line time, enter your cell number or e-mail and your done! They send you text or e-mail updates as you get closer to the front of the virtual line. When there are 15 people ahead of you, they tell you to head back to the North Pole.

At first, I wasn't 100% sold on this idea because "The Big Guy" isn't in full dress regalia...he's what I refer to as a"workshop" Santa. He wears Christmas shirts that his wife sews for him (yah, his real wife, not Mrs, Klaus) with suspenders and his normal red pants with white puffy trim.  I got over it, though, because I started reading reviews from past years online. He's the most realistic, genuine, kindhearted mall Santa I've ever seen!

And, come on...the no line thing! We were so there! Why on earth don't more malls come up with better Santa systems.  It seems to me that more shopping gets done while your waiting for your turn than if you were waiting in line. Oh well! It's their loss. We've found our family Santa!

As for how Harris did with his first Santa visit? Well, there weren't any tears, but there weren't any smiles either! I was pleased with how the pictures turned out, though. His expression is priceless!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Giving Back One Dollar at a Time

Last week, a friend and coworker who is on the longest bad luck streak I know--multiple health problems in the last two years and two upcoming surgeries in the next two months-- comes home from her pre-op appointment to find her house ransacked, her granddaughters' Christmas presents stolen from under the tree. My coworkers and I could not sit idly by and do nothing. We organized an impromptu raffle and, this week, presented her with a $530 giftcard.  Her grandkids may not have their original Christmas presents, but at least they will have a Christmas. And, my coworker has some good luck to break her streak.

Giving back does not have to be difficult and even little efforts make a big difference.  In my coworker's case, for example, ,so many employees chipped in just a dollar or two.  But, in the end, we raised over $500 in only two days. It's amazing how much big hearted people can do even when starting with very little!

GiveBack.org is a perfect example of that philosophy!  GiveBack is the easiest way for you to donate to all of your favorite charities through your very own foundation! I signed up this evening and within 5 minutes, I had already given my complimentary $5 to my charity of choice...The Ronald McDonald House of Dallas.  Who will you give your first $5 too?

And, what happens after you spend that first $5? Easy! The more you shop at GiveBack Partner Merchants, the more you funds you raise to give back to your favorite charities. It's really that easy...you raise money for your favorite charities just by buying things you would have already bought!

It doesn't end there, though. By givingn through GiveBack, you're able to draw attention to all of your charities through Facebook. Show others that you donated just a little at a time to a great cause, or through buying great items from Partner Merchants, and you encourage them to give back, too!

Sometimes the smallest thing can take on a life of it's own and become a movement.  I won't go so far as to say that my coworkers and I created a "movement," but we certainly rallied colleagues to the cause of helping a fellow employee. Take a few minutes to rally your friends around whatever cause you support. It's fast, easy and fun with GiveBack.org.

This post was written in conjunction with a One2One Network member contest hosted by GiveBack.org. All thoughts, opinionns and experiences expressed are my own.

A Christmas Orange in a Cookie

I'm guest blogging over at Sweet Jeanette today! Come join me there!
Sweet Jeanette

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Perfect Moment: A Christmas Surprise

I was in the middle of working on a completely separate Perfect Moment post when The Hubby bribed me to go put the bottles in the dishwasher.  That seemed innocent enough.  We were both exhausted last night and neither of us felt like washing them by hand. 

I walked into the kitchen in a half-sleepy state.  I turned on the water to start rinsing the first bottle and absent-mindedly reached down to open the dishwasher.  The handle didn't feel right.  It was old, something must be wrong with it.  I finally got it to open and started to put the first bottle on the top rack.  As I lowered the door, I noticed some blinking lights and thought "that's odd."  I didn't remember there being any lights on the dishwasher. Then, once it was opened, I noticed that it had a stainless steel tub.  Even then, it didn't click that it was a brand spanking dishwasher in there!

Only after I closed it and opened it again did I squeal with delight, "HEY, It's a new dishwasher! At that point, Hubby burst in laughing, holding LMH.  As it turned out, the dishwasher had been installed Sunday morning while LMH and I were on our way back from our weekend trip to Missouri.  He wanted it to be a surprises (he is, after all, the king of Christmas surprises!), so he waited for me to notice.  Him and his dad had placed bets on how long it would take. 

Truth be told, had Hubby not bribed me to wash bottles last night, it might have been another day!  I HATED the old dishwasher with wild abandon! Pretty much every time we ran a load, another rusted tine fell off.  I never felt like things really got clean.  And, I didn't want to wash bottles in there very often because I was afraid they, in particular, wouldn't get clean enough. The new dishwasher has Sani-Rinse (perfect for bottles), 1 hour wash (perfect for everything else), turbo clean and even a status bar that indicates where in the cycle it is. I couldn't be happier!

A new dishwasher may be the most practical of gifts for Christmas.  But, a state-of-the-art new dishwasher was the perfect gift for Santa Hubby to bring this year. I love that he knows me well enough to know that a dishwasher was a homerun Christmas present and not a practical present dud (as some people might think). And, the fact that he, once again, took the time to surprise me only makes me love him (and it) that much more!

(Check out the other Perfect Moments, and add your own, at Write Mind Open Heart)
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