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 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! 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 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

This post was written in conjunction with a One2One Network member contest hosted by 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)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today, I woke up feeling just like any other during the two week wait.  I had no sneaking suspicions, no preconceived notions. I knew I wasn't pregnant.  Why would I think anything otherwise? Doctors far and wide had told us that it wouldn't happen on our own, and we were set to start our first IVF cycle the next month.  As a matter of fact, I was going in to sign the paperwork on Monday!

As a rule, I did not test.  I'd much rather just see AF rear her ugly head than to see the absence of a line or, even worse, a glaring "NOT PREGNANT" staring back at me.  After all, I had seen AF appear for the better part of 20+ years. It was no big deal.  Being reminded, however, of the ridiculously low odds (3% or less according to the RE) of us conceiving naturally was just to painful to bear.

This particular day was a little bit different, though.  This was the day of my company holiday affair known company-wide for it's fabulous open bar.  For that sole reason, I pulled out an internet cheapie and absent-mindedly tested.  I almost went back to bed, since it was ridiculously early for me to be waking up on a Saturday morning.  But, something forced me to get back out of bed within the 10 minute testing window.

In my half asleep state, I barely noticed that there was the faintest of a second line.  Could it really be true?  I didn't believe it.  But now I just had to take another.  I took five ICs that morning, all positive, before realizing that they had expired a month earlier.  Now, convinced that they might be giving me false positives, and desperate to see "PREGNANT" on a digital in order to believe, I raced off to Walgreens at 7:30am.

By this time, The Hubby knew that something was up.  As if it wasn't strange enough for me to be up at 7:30, now I was getting dressed and going somewhere?  Yep, something was definitely up.  He just smiled and waited for me to continuing on with my confirmation process.  At that point, I still didn't believe there was any chance that this was really happening, certainly not enough of one to get his hopes up.

As luck would have it, his dad had been in a car accident the previous night.  The Hubby needed to take him to the accident site, car dealership and insurance agent that morning.  Of course, that meant I'd be doing all of the confirmation on my own, and on the down low.

I got back fro Walgreen's with three more tests, two regular and one digital.  All three were positive, and "PREGNANT" appeared on the digi in mere seconds, plain as day.  Even then, though, I didn't believe. 

I knew that our RE was open until noon on Saturdays, so I called to get their advice on what to do next.  I was really hoping they'd let me come in for a blood test and not make me wait until Monday.  Thankfully, they got me in for a blood test ASAP, so I booked it across town for the blood letting...happily! But, it would be a long few hour wait until they called with the results.

The first time I saw The Hubby after the positive digi was in the parking lot of a shopping center.  He had just enough time in between dropping his dad off for some errands that we could share a hug and a few tears of disbelief.  Maybe this was really happening. Still, just to be safe, we didn't want to share the news with family until we had the HCG results.  I was on pins and needles.

A couple hours later, I met The Hubby and his dad for lunch.  I was mentally counting down the hours until when they said they'd call with the results.  It should be any minute.  We couldn't stand it any longer, so we told Hubby's dad what all the fuss was about, and he waited with us. 

It wasn't too much longer before the phone rang. I handed it to Hubby. I just couldn't bear to hear that it had all been a dream, a cruel figment of my imagination. He listened to the nurse and a big grin broke across his face.  Only then did I finally allow myself to start believing that LMH was really baking in there.  The next few weeks were probably the longest of the entire pregnancy...the wait between the positive and our first ultrasound.

But, for this one afternoon, I let myself believe that it would all be ok. That our miracle had happened.  That in August, I would hold our miracle in my arms. Even then, though, I don't think I could fathom him being four months old.  Even now sometimes that's hard to believe! 

So today, a year later, I'm feeling rather nostalgic.  I'm marvelling and just how much things can chnage in a year, at just how fast he grows, at just how lucky we blessed.  And, I'm thankful beyond words.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday: Morning Smiles

Every morning, there's a moment when the sound of baby babble gently rouses me from a deep sleep. He's the best alarm clock there is! Sometimes it's just some mutters and a stir; other mornings he's in a full on scream by the time I get myself out of bed and into his room.  Regardless, as soon as I open the door and say "Good Morning," the room gets quiet. And, by the time I turn on the light, turn off the monitor, and look over the crib, he's grinning back at me with the most perfect smile.

When I was on maternity leave, we'd take things easy...feeding, read a book, play a little. And, I could soak it all in. Every smile and coo making me feel that much more blessed for my miracle baby boy.

Since I've been back at work, it's that morning ritual I miss the most. Now it's go, go, go, with very little time to stop and savor the moments. I try to be the one to feed him every morning, just so I can add a few precious moments of LMH time to my day. Then it's off to the bouncer or the exercauser why I hurriedly get read and then out the door...after more than a few goodbye kisses.

But, now that I'm back at work, it's that "I hear my mommy" silence, and that first smile that get me through the day. It's a moment just for mom and son, no one else awake yet but the two of us. My morning starts with a smile that echoes his. And, no matter what the day may hold or how poorly I slept the night before, that perfect smile reminds me why I do it...why I juggle the insanity that is being a work away from hom mom, why I stay up late to spend more time with him, why it's worth it that I might be a walking zombie at work, why I feel so blessed to see that smiling face every morning.

Read about more Perfect Moments and share your own at Write Mind Open Heart.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Confessions of a Nutella Addict

Hi world! My name is Lin and I'm a Nutella addict.

Seriously, I'm beginning to have a problem with Nutella!  I had it when I was a kid, I'm sure of it.  But, for some reason, Nutella hadn't found its way back into my life until the past few weeks.  Actually, a friend's status update on Facebook sparked the obession.  Since then, it's been a mainstay on the weekly grocery list.

So far, I've had Nutella on toast, bagels, croissants, graham crackers, Wheat Thins (YUM!), bananas, Nilla Wafers (little Nutella sandwiches...have I mentioned I have a problem?)...and, most recently, Nutella banana pudding. I've even filed away a recipe for Nutella shortbread.

Actually, when I originally bought my first jar of Nutella in a few weeks ago, it was to make that Nutella shortbread.  I'm on my third jar and it's been gone so fast each time that shortbread has yet to be made. The Hubby now loves the stuff, too, so that's not helping matters any!

I'm afraid Nutella will soon go the way of peanut butter in our house...can't buy it, or I'll eat it by the spoonful.  The only type of peanut butter we buy around here is the particular nasty all naturally, extra oily kind so that the dogs can have it with treats and pills, but I won't touch the stuff.  Unfortunately, there's no nasty all natural, extra oily Nutella.  It's just yum in every spoon ful. *sigh*

So, what's your favorite way to eat Nutella?  And, what's your secret food obsession?  The first step is admitting you have a problem...

It's Say Hi Sunday!

Hi all! :-)

Friday, December 3, 2010

And Now We Wait...

And I try my hardest not to check my e-mail incessantly.  It's not working so well so far, I'm afraid.  I've got my browser open with a Gmail tab front and center, constantly glancing up to see if my new messages number has increased by one. When it does, my heart skips a beat only to find it's junk e-mail from one company or the next.

What am I waiting on?  Why, my DisneySMMoms confirmation, of course! Yesterday's registration was, as DVCMom aptly put it, internet hilarity.  Though, I think internet insanity may be even more appropriate!  Registration opened at 2pm EST and while no one knows exactly how many people tried to register, we do know that Disney's servers had a hard time handling the rush.  Registration opened with this tweet from @DisneySMMoms:

But I wasn't feeling any magic...

I watched the "orange spinning circle of doom" for about 35 minutes before finally seeing the registration form, others for over an hour, and still others never even got to the form at all before Disney closed registration for the year.

When so many of us were staring at the orange spinner we began to wonder if anyone was getting in at all:

At that point, I began to panic a bit that I wouldn't even get the chance to register! But, luckily did finallly get to shortly thereafter.

Later in the evening when the DisneySMMoms team was heading home for the evening, registration e-mails still unsent, we heard this:

And, this morning a very Disney-esque tweet:

So, we wait. The Twitterverse is still abuzz as all of the DisneySMMoms hopefuls wait on the edge of their seat, obsessively checking e-mails and the newly formed Facebook Group...myself included. But, while I appreciate all of the updates from the DisneySMMoms team, I still feel the same as yesterday...a criteria for "acceptance" is fine. Just be open about it, if there was! It's frustrating to know that I may have gotten my hopes up even though Ididn't meet the unspoken criteria from the start.  That said, I am completely supportive of a "verification" process to make sure that people who registered actually have active blogs, etc., and aren't just in it for the Disney vacation of a lifetime. I'm still hoping that it comes down to when you registered and not how many followers you have. Everyone starts somewhere, and us "small fries" can benefit from the experience just as much (if not more) than the "large fries."

No matter what happens, though, I have "met" so many other truly wonderful bloggers (and fellow Disney fanatics) in the last few days as we geared up for DisneySMMoms registration. I'm hopeful that I'll get to meet them all in a few months at Disney! In the meantime, I'd like to share some of their blogs with you:
Sippy Cup Mom at The Life of a Sippy Cup Mom
Carrie at Carrie with Children
Maykit Myway at MomTrek
Deb at Just Short of Crazy

Friday Blog Hops

My Wee View  BoostMyBlogFriday

Thursday, December 2, 2010

It's DisneySMMoms Day...Plus a Blog Hop!

I admit it...I have butterflies today.  Remember last year when I had the amazing chance to go to Disney World and call that work?  Well, moving into 2011, one of my goals is to expand my presence in the blogosphere. I'm still in the process of defining exactly what that means for this blog, and my new one, but I'm looking into many things...product reviews, vlogs, monetization, sponsorships, etc.  These are all things that I would benefit from attending a blog conference to learn more about. So, I had already added that to my personal bucket list for 2011.

And then, another of those surrendipitous moments came to pass...perhaps, another chance to attend a conference at Walt Dinsey World.  But, this is not just any conference. This is the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration! Let's face it, every event Disney puts on is AMAZING, so I can't think of a better conference to start with.  I know that I'll learn so much more than I ever thought possible and meet other amazing women there too soak in the knowledge and experience, as well.

There's just one problem.  Last year, DisneySMMoms was a first-come/first-serve event.  And, astoundingly, tickets were on sale for a few days before they sold out.  This year, though, the word is out...everyone knows how awesome last year's conference was and wants in, too!  Understandably so!Disney is asking a bunch of marketing questions (pageviews, followers, etc) at the time of registration, which is calling into question whether or not DisneySMMoms will again be a first-come/fist-serve event.  I'm obviously biased, because I don't have the massive traffic of many other bloggers in the mom blog arena.  But, even they started somewhere.  In fact, I know that a few of the really well known bloggers of 2010 began their rise to "fame" after DisneySMMoms '10. 

Shouldn't we all have such a chance?  That's why I hope that Disney continues to make SMMoms an equal-opportunity that we all can have a chance to add a bit of Disney magic to our blog and lives.  We're not all so lucky to be able to go to Disney World every year (last year's conference was my first trip back since our honeymoon), but that doesn't mean we love it any less.  Likewise, pageviews and followers aren't always an accurate representation of passion or willingness to learn. 

So, we'll see how today goes.  Not getting in because I didn't register in time is one thing.  Not getting in because it has become an elitist affair is another entirely.  So, we'll see how this afternoon goes.  You know where I'll be at 1pm CST.

After that, I'll be visiting blogs on the Thursday Friends and Giveaways & Thirsty Thursday Blog Hop! Check them out!
Obviously MARvelous

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

In the Spirit of Giving...Heart of Haiti

While your planning gifts for all your friends and family this year, it's always nice to give a gift that gives back.  Macy's Heart Haiti program does just that! Heart of Haiti is helping Haiti through "trade no aid." 

It's like that old parable "Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today.  Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.  Heart of Haiti is doing exacly that by giving Haitian villagers the tools they need to rebuild their lives and their livelihood, rather than a one time donation. Each item is designed by a Haitian master artisan and produced by hand in Haiti from recycled materials such as oil drums, wrought iron, and paper maiche.  - The Heart of Haiti collection has already led to employment of 350 artists in Haiti and has provided some financial benefits for an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 people in the country. 
The Heart of Haiti collection is an array of handmade products for the home -- quilts, metalwork, ceramics, and paintings -- created by Haitian artisans. Most items range from $25-60 with some as low as $10.  So, please take a look at the Macy's Heart of Haiti website and see if you an give back while giving to those you love this Christmas season. 

No, seriously...take a look, then let me know what you favorite items are!

Disclosure: I am writing this post to spread the word about Heart of Haiti through a Mom Bloggers Club member program and I will receive a Heart of Haiti pendant as a thank you.

Let's Bring Christmas to a Wounded DFW Police Officer's Family

On Monday, a good friend and colleague at work checked her text messages and let out an audible gasp.  She didn't breathe and turned a certain shade of pale.  After a few seconds, just as we were about to ask if she was ok, she "There's an officer down. He's okay, but anytime I see "Officer Down," I get worried."

Rightfully so. Her husband is a Dallas PD Officer. And, ten years ago, he was shot in the line of duty, as well. We talked for a bit about what she knew about shooting, if she knew the officer or his family, etc. I admit that after that conversation passed, I don't think I thought about the officer or the incident again.

Flash forward to tonight. I was just getting ready for bed when I got an e-mail from the organizer of a local playgroup LMH and I had recently joined. Her husband, also a DPD officer, is the partner of the officer wounded in the shooting.  His name is Officer Richard Whitt.  He has a wife and three children between the ages of 3 and 10.

Now I can't stop thinking about The Whitt Family.

Officer Whitt has already undergone three surgeries and is not out of the woods yet. That alone,with three kids, right before Christmas would be devasting enough, but their situation is even more dire. DPD has recently undergone a number of leadership changes, furloughs and paycuts.  Since Officer Whit is a rookie, he oped to forgo healh insurance for he remainder of the year in favor of more take-hom pay for his family his year. Surely, in this economy, we can all appreciate that.  However, this means that DPD will be paying no more than their legally required workers' compensation.

Officer Whit's family is in danger of losing their home, not being able to put food on the table, and not having a Christmas for their hree small children. Officer Whit is a hero and an inspiration. We have him and the many other officers throughout the country for our safety.

I wan to do something. I feel like I'm being called to do more...the two connections to this story that randomly (or not so randomly) appeared in my life this week cannot be a coincidence. I want to do all I can to make sure htat Officer Whit's family has a wonderful, blessed Christmas.  But, I don't know where to start. 

Please help me brainstorm ways to harness the power of Facebook, Twitter or the blogosphere to deliver hope, love, and thankfulness to the Whit Family this Christmas.
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