Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Happiness Project and One Little Word - 2012

Happy New Year!  Year end work is in full swing for me at Aviva Investors; therefore, I have been quite distracted from setting New Year goals )and from working on taking the Christmas tree down).....

Anyway, I have been working on reading the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and have also been thinking about picking "One Little Word" to concentrate on for 2012.  It all came together for me last night....my word is GRATITUDE, and I am going to start a gratitude journal as part of my own Happiness Project.

There was a recent news story about a local high school girl losing her battle with an inoperable brain tumor that first made me prayer for strength for her family, then, count my blessings.  Then, news on one of the blogs I read regularly of a couple seeking divorce made me count my blessings twice.  No matter how the messy house irritates me or how the sassy kids annoy me, I am blessed.  I believe keeping this Gratitude journal will provide a daily reminder of these blessing and , in the end, lead to greater awareness of all I have to be happy about in life.  I also hope this leads to me sharing my Gratitude with those closest to me and leads to a healthier and happier 2012 for all of us.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holiday dance and Christmas cookies

The day was packed with fun today.  Skylar had to dance in the Christmas recital at the Rec Center today.  She was in the pom pom dance as well as the Cousin Trio competition dance.  Halle and Sydney also performed their solo.  It was a PACKED house, and I didn't arrive until showtime.  I guess I was naive to  think it wouldn't be a big deal.  Thanks to Jenn and Joell, we still had a seat to sit in , and Skylar got a little blingy eye shadow.  They did great!  A little more smiling next time, and they are ready for competition.  The admission for the dance recital was canned goods. With such a packed house, there was quite a heaping pile of goods donated for the food pantry. Loved to see the Christmas spirit.

We spent the afternoon at the farm frosting sugar cookies.  Jenn make the cookies and frosting before we arrive, then the kids go crazy with sprinkles and other goodies.  It's always fun to see the "fuzzy" cookies Eliza makes and the artsy ideas Skylar comes up with.  We were like a cookie decorating assembly line this year and got them done in 1.5 hours.  Love this fun Christmas tradition and so glad to spend some time with Grandma.

We took the kids to see the Alvin and the Chipmunks move after the cookie decorating.  Benji and Mitch had their kids and we all went to the show in Perry and took up a whole row in the theater.  The movie was definitely more for kids than adults.  Eliza and Skylar both liked it better than the first 2 Chipmunks movies.  Eliza said, it was AWESOME!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Homemade cards

I managed to get through another work week!  I actually had training at Iowa State University today.  It is an annual training that the accounting department puts on and is really enjoyable each year.  It is a contemporary issues conference and is taught by professors so feels a little like school again.  I know I am a little deranged, but I really liked college, so it is fun to go back.

After training, I ventured to Mary Perry's to hang out for a few hours and work on my Christmas cards....finally.  It was so nice to see Mary, Joan, and Karla again and just hang out and laugh.  Amazingly, I was productive too.  I only had an idea in my head when I arrived.  I was really pleased with the results, so I went ahead and made 40 cards.  I probably should have gone with 50 or 60, but I will try to remember to plan for more next year.

I used the same stamps and twine I am using for gift wrapping, and I printed my own patterned paper from a design I purchased on etsy.com.  I used the new Tim Holtz distress ink colors issued for Christmas and a Tim Holtz silver paint dauber also.  Thanks, Mary, for letting me borrow your Tim Holtz label die cut too.  Sensing a theme?    Gotta love the Tim Holtz products.   Here is a picture of this year's card it is a pocket, so the 4x6 photo can be removed and kept after the card is discarded.  I love the family photo.  Grandpa David took it.  We posed in the ravine behind our house on Thanksgiving day before heading to Joell's for dinner.  I wanted to get some pictures before the leaves were covered with snow or blackened by frost.  I just loved the gorgeous fall colors in the background.

Here are a couple of pictures documenting how I display the cards we receive. I got this awesome plastic clothespin and string kit at the antique store in town 2 years ago.  It was already open, so I didn't feel bad about actually using it.  I just think it is the cutest.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Exterior Illumination

Danny has been working hard at the exterior illumination this season.  He bought new blue rope lights for the roof that have been up since the week after Thanksgiving.  He even put blue light bulbs in the garage lights.  He has been waiting to light the peak until the roof was not slick and finished those tonight.  We still have to hang the big wreath sometime.

Excuse my blurry pictures (I was shivering)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Christmas Decor

I like to buy a couple new Christmas decor items each year.  I don't like to spend a lot every year, so I figure a little each year instead will add up to a house full eventually, right?!?! 

This year I purchased this silver tree at the flower shop in Woodward I mentioned in an earlier post.

I technically bought this other decoration last year, but didn't frame it or display it until this year.  I bought these handmade cards at a Market Day Black Friday sale last year.  They were too pretty to send, so I decided to frame them and decorate with them instead.  Danny even likes them....my Christmas miracle... : )

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas books

I realized this year that we really didn't have much for Christmas books to read during the holiday season, so when out shopping I grabbed a few new books.  Then, Danny bought the girls Bad Kitty Christmas when we were on our Saturday date night. 
Eliza has been asking me to read the books in the rocking chair each night with her this week.  It really is nice to cuddle and rock and take a moment to relax each night with the girls...  Missing the cuddly baby days, so I will soak up all of this rocking time I can still get .

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Playing catch up.

Lots to talk about to catch up since last Monday:

1) Tuesday, Dec. 6th:  The girls are really getting good at their Christmas piano songs.  Piano practice is one thing I never have to nag the kids to do.  They love their teacher and seem to really enjoy the challenge.   Skylar has learned the "Sugarplum Fairy" and "Angels we have heard on high".  Eliza has learned "Jingle Bells", "Deck the Halls", "Up on the Housetop", and "Angels we have heard on high".

2) Wednesday, Dec. 7th: Eliza had a doctor appt today to look at her tonsils.  She had strep throat this year twice already, and the clinic referred us to a specialist.  All was well with the appt, and they said, she would have to have strep 5-7 times in one year to seriously consider removing her tonsils. 

I spent the day at Aviva in West Des Moines with my new peers in the Aviva USA Finance dept.  We went through some team building exercises, talked about 2011 successes and 2012 goals and had a little fun crafting cards for our staff.  Turns out 3 of us are scrapbookers.  Besides the fun day of comradery, it was fun to see the new West Des Moines building decked out for the holidays.  They have several trees decorated in brown and teal in the common areas.  Just gorgeous! 

 3) Thursday, Dec. 8th: Christmas present wrapping finally began. I had this hair brained idea to be really crafty with my wrapping this year. I am using mailing paper and purchased a tag pattern and string for the package from small businesses. I found the tag pattern on etsy.com

and the string for packaging on shopolivemanna.com. Divine Twine I also purchased new stamps and ink to decorate the mailing paper. Believe by Ali EdwardsSo far the wrapping was pretty fun, but I am sure I will regret this come the week of the 19th when I am still wrapping like a mad woman.  I will definitely be cheating with gift bags for some. : )

4) Friday, Dec. 9th: The end of another long work week.  We had our annual holiday chili cook off at work.  I am not a big fan of chili, so I grabbed a salad for lunch.  When I got back I heard people talking about the cinnamon rolls I missed out on.  : (  They were already gone when I got back to my desk.  After lunch I had back to back meetings again, but when I stopped by my desk next, there sat an awesome huge cinnamon roll!!!  When one of my team members went to collect her crock pot, they discovered a hidden box of cinnamon rolls, and she grabbed one for me.  YAY!!!  Just like a Christmas Angel.  It was sticky, sweet, and way too much but sooooooo worth it.  The cinnamon rolls from Do-Biz bakery cannot be beat. 

After work, Skylar had trio competition practice.  Here is a picture of this year's costumes.  The song is "ice cream freeze", so we thought these colors in the top looked like Dairy Queen swirls and candy colors.  We bought can can skirts because they are performing a clogging routine this year.  Very challenging new type of dance for them.  Can't wait to see it performed next weekend.
After dance I took Sydney and Skylar to our home and Eliza went home with Halle to the Herrick's for a sleep over.  It was really quiet at our house, so I think I got the good end of that deal. 

5) Saturday, Dec. 10th: Today I planned to build gingerbread houses with the girls and our nieces, Sydney and Halle.  We bought supplies when I was grocery shopping last weekend and had the cart 1/2 full with candy of all sorts.  The looks we got from other shoppers was pretty funny.  I had one of the managers running to check the backroom for mini candy canes, and the check out girl said, "What's the deal?  Did you just get paid?"  I also stopped by the bakery to order the frosting.  We ordered 2.5 quarts of frosting total in white, red, green, and yellow.  Let me tell you, the $9.50 price tag is WAY worth it to avoid the pain of mixing the frosting myself with my tiny hand mixer and drops of food coloring.  Also, I should actually call them "graham cracker houses", but you can't really tell the difference when they are all covered up with frosting. 
Joell came over around 11am and Grandpa David helped as well.  Grandpa David always adds to the engineering capabilities of the creations.  I should have left the house building to Danny.  Every side I made was lopsided and not quite at a right angle.  We decided the uncoordinated elves lived in my houses.  I did manage to add a candy cane chimney to one of my houses after accidentally making a hole in the roof though.  Then, the girls were sort of jealous of Halle because she got the house with a chimney.  We had a good time and used lots of imagination.  We just kept creating until the white frosting ran out, and the ideas stopped coming.  I think more time is actually spent decorating the yard rather than the house.  No matter how big the 'yard' is, we manage to fill it up.  Here are a few photos.


Danny and I had a date night Saturday evening to wrap up Christmas shopping.  I did forget 2 things, but otherwise, we should be done.  We mostly had a few gifts to buy for 2 homeless youth I adopted this year along with a military family my office adopted this year.  We managed to hit all of the stores we planned and had a nice late dinner at Outback steakhouse. 

6) Sunday, Dec. 11th: We had family Christmas in Jefferson for Danny's mom's side of the family planned for today. I volunteered Danny to bring pickle roll-ups, which were still unmade this morning. Needless to say, this did not make a great start to the day. Also, I only bought one package of ham last weekend, and we needed more like 3 packages. So, I started my pasta salad and quickly dressed and ran to the store. I was back home at about 15 minutes before we were supposed to leave. The girls were dressed but running around playing Wii with wet hair and Danny still had pickle roll-ups to make. He pulled it together in record time, and we pulled into the community center in Jefferson right at noon. Don't ask me how we managed to be on time. The meal was great as usual, then we gathered into teams for a couple of fun new games. The best was definitely "flickin chicken" where we all had to throw mini rubber chickens at a large pink target. Too funny...many people had many different techniques. It was very competitive. Here are a few photos of the fun.

 We had to have a tie breaker, and Halle was the big winner of the day.  Her team won the first game, she won "flickin chicken" , and she also got $10 in her grab bag gift.  Winner, winner, rubber chicken dinner as Danny said....

 We all bring a small grab bag to open each year as well.  Here is a photo of the table.  This year, we had to solve a word puzzle to determine which package was ours, and we were able to open gifts right away with no trading.  After opening, we shared what our gifts were and told a little bit about what was new for 2011 in each of our lives.  It is nice to catch up, and we are thankful that Wanda and Jolene go to so much work to get us all together and get this organized each year.  It is a fun kick off to the Christmas season.