My wife and I are having a debate about the appropriate XMAS Cookie Season. I have always thought that the cookie season goes as follows: Cookie Baking and Freezing begins after Thanksgiving. Eating of Christmas cookies can begin anytime during the Advent Calendar. Maybe while watching some of the Christmas TV specials on TV the Parents and Kids could eat a plate of Christmas Cookies. Also it could be fun to have the Christmas cookies while decorating the Tree or the House with all of the Christmas Decorations. Or when you get that first batch of snow in Dec. and you start to think about the holiday you could be drinking the hot chocolate and eating a cookie. Sounds great, Right!?
However, according to my wife the Cookie season begins on Christmas Day (which according to me means it ends on Valentines Day.) I love having the Christmas cookies while opening the presents. The problem comes in around the 3rd week of January when I am still eating the cookies and I just feel like I am eating badly vs. participating in the holiday that ended 4 weeks ago. Instead of feeling joyful and anticipating XMAS instead I just feel pathetic that I am eating a Christmas Tree Cookie on Martin Luther King day.
Anyways, that's my take. Thoughts?
Yesterday I was hanging out at home with my wife and the baby and Crystal tells me that the dog spit up and she saw two 20 dollar bills in the mess. In addition she also found 1 more 20 dollar bill outside in the yard that must have already passed through the dog. So both of us do a quick check of our wallets and realize that we are not missing any money. However, 24 hours earlier my mother-in-law was over at our house taking care of Baby Lauren while we went shopping for a new Washer since our old one completely failed (old news.) So my wife called her mom to see if she was missing any money. We were hoping that she had only lost 60 dollars since we had found those already and would not have to worry about any bills being stuck in the dog's digestive tract. However, my mother-in-law said that she did have 10 bills missing from her purse that was sitting on the floor at our house the previous day and that she had been looking all over to find the missing money.
So instead of a peaceful restful Sunday at home with the family my wife took the doggie and went to the Emergency Vet while I stayed home to take care of the Baby. They took an X-Ray and could see that there were still contents in the dogs stomach so they gave her something to make her throw up and got the remaining bills. One interesting note is that the cost to take the dog to the vet and get the emergency care cost more than the actual amount of money the dog ate on Saturday. In addition to the 4+ hours my wife spent getting the dog emergency care at the Vet.
Not a fun way to spend the Sunday but the good news is that the dog appears to be ok today. Good thing we love this Dog!
My calendar seems to be very clear these days. Oh, I still have all the typical Birthdays and Holidays but the usual planned Trips, Big Project Deadlines, Vacations, Adventures, etc are all strangely missing from my upcoming 2010 calendar. It actually feels a little bit strange. I suspect the reason it feels strange is that I like to have something to look forward to. Usually the events I look forward to are recreational trips (different than business trips) parties, big life events (ex: Weddings, Births, etc.) I am sure part of my reluctance to plan has to do with the baby and also wondering what I will be up to from a Career perspective next year. However, since such things are always changing I probably should not let such uncertain concerns affect my decision to do things and go places I wanted to go anyways.
Now to just plan something different and exciting to do. Hmmmmm.
A number of weeks ago my mom mentioned to me that her condo in North Myrtle Beach had a number of weeks when no one was renting it. She also mentioned that if we wanted to go to the condo during one of those weeks we could let her know and she could block off the week for us. I was unsure at the time if doing a trip would be a good idea for a number of reasons. I was worried about how the baby would handle the long drive. Also was worried about how the baby would sleep when we were there since the previous time we tried to get her to nap in a pack and play at my parents was a failure. However, since my wife didn't reject the idea immediately and asked if I would like to go I said I would love to. We also decided to invite my mother-in-law as well on the trip so she could enjoy the beach, her granddaugther, and also provide us with a little help with the baby.
Our original plan was to leave around 3PM on Friday Night and drive straight to the condo. This plan was revised to drive only from Pittsburgh to Rockingham, NC that night when we learned that someone had rented the condo until Saturday Morning. The drive went very smoothly and even though we needed to do more frequent breaks for feedings, changings, etc we still arrived at Rockingham just after midnight to catch some sleep before continuing our trip to the beach.
The next morning we hit the road for the final 2 hour drive and had great weather and almost no traffic. We arrived at the condo somewhat early and decided to leave some of our luggage in the closets and go out to grab some lunch to give the cleaning service a chance to work. One thing I was very impressed with is how well Lauren handled going out to eat on this trip. Prior to this trip we only took Lauren out to eat 2X and on this trip we ate out once a day without any major trouble.
Saturday and Sunday we had mostly warm and sunny weather so we tried to take advantage as much as possible by being out on the beach during the day. I brought my trusty old PSU tailgating tent to give us some shade but we also had bought a special "Baby Cabana Tent" for Lauren to keep her out of the Sun. Amazingly we actually got Lauren to nap in the Baby Tent a couple of times so we were able to stay out on the beach while she took her needed naps in the morning and afternoon!
We also got the chance to let Lauren play with the sand on the beach, some of the small waves near the ocean and also practice swimming in the indoor pool. My sister offered to let us borrow a little floater that Lauren's Cousin Emily used at the beach a couple of weeks earlier. It was nice to let Lauren kick her feet and float around the pool by herself but under our supervision. For some reason she thought the front handle was a teething ring though!
In addition to hanging out at the beach we also got to eat at some of my favorite places at Myrtle Beach including the local K&W Cafeteria and Don's Pancake house. We never had a long wait and had a lot of great meals too!
One thing I particularly enjoyed about this trip was just spending time with the family and also unplugging from the TV News and Internet (I had no internet service there.) I did watch a show or two on TV during some evenings but was able to enjoy a much needed break from all the bad and stressful news stories that bombard us constantly. While I felt a little out of touch it was nice not to think about those stress inducing news items on vacation.
I'm starting to feel a lot more confident about going to more places after this trip with our daughter. Prior to this we really only took her to visit relatives. After doing such a long beach trip now I am not worried about doing another beach trip next summer!
Next trip: (Adults Only) PSU Game 09/11-09/13/2009!
- You ever notice that 2 days after ending a vacation you realize that you need to start a new one? Why is that? Some entire countries take a whole month off in the Summer. Like August. I never liked August myself. In the days before such inventions like air conditioning I would just drop a batch of ice down my trousers. Although looking like I wet myself make me look kind of silly. Ice is cold. Did you ever notice that?
-You ever notice that while you always talk about stuff you would like to get done when you have some time free any free moment is usually wasted. For example. I would like to think that if I could get 30 minutes when the baby doesn't need attention (Which I get every evening while she takes a 30 minute nap) I could do any one of the many many items on my own to-do list. (ex: Hang pictures on the wall that have sat on the floor since we moved into the house back in Oct 2008) But I never do. I always just check Facebook and read the news. You ever notice reading/watching the news makes you want to fake your own death and leave the country.
-You ever notice that fruit that sits in a basket in the kitchen for too long gets rotten? Why is that? I never liked eating rotten food myself. I don't know why I buy fruit and if I don't eat it in 2 days it never seems to get eaten and goes bad. Why is that?
-You ever notice that "poor" people always seem to have enough money to own 52 inch Flat-screen TV's, 200 dollar shoes, $400 iPhones, but live in Section 8 housing, use food stamps, and seem to demand more from the Government? Why is that? I never thought about buying an iPhone before buying groceries myself. It just seemed kind of silly. Then again back when I was young the AM radio hadn't been invented yet and we paid for everything when we decided we wanted it or needed it. Back then Taft was President. I liked Taft. Taft would not have looked good on TV but it didn't matter back then. Did you ever notice that looking good became an important quality for a president to have once women started voting for Warren G Harding? Why is that?
-You ever notice that the cost of education keeps going up and up and the young whelps coming out of school can't read, write, or do basic math? Why is that? When I was in school if I didn't do my homework Sister Mary Ruler Smack would give me an earful and perhaps a swat with the ruler. Not to mention the note home to Mom and Dad. Do they still send notes home nowadays? I never liked school myself. Thought I was smarter than my teachers. Then again if you can't fire union teachers that are bad ever you very well might have children that are actually smarter than those teachers.
-You ever notice that they used to only give Hurricanes female names and now they give them both male and female names? Why is that? My grandfather told me that it was because hurricanes were supposed to be as unpredictable as a woman. I never liked unpredictable women myself. They usually would scream at me angrily in public places like the market. Markets are bad places for screaming. It is difficult to have proper argument when trying to dodge the plums an unpredictable woman is throwing at you. Plus the other shoppers look at you funny.
-You ever notice that people now spend more money on toys and clothes for their children then they spend on the mortgage for their house? Why is that? We never had lots of money for toys or clothes when I was growing up. We walked around in sackcloth and played with stones down by the river. You ever notice that the only fun thing to do with a stone is to throw it at something/someone? Why is that? I never liked playing with stones myself. I always wished I had a pony named FDR.
Since the baby was born in April and we were not sure about what we could do with traveling vacations in 2009 my wife and I scheduled vacation for this week in August. We were not really sure what we would do other than we would remain in Pittsburgh, PA and that the baby would still attend daycare during the day Mon-Fri of that week.
Turns out we chose a very good week weather wise. We had some showers on a couple of days but most of the time our weather was in the 80's and Sunny. Late Summer is the safe bet when it comes to getting warm and sunny here in Pittsburgh.
So this week we did a lot of fun things. We spent a couple of days just soaking up some sun at the community pool for our neighborhood. One day it looked like the pool had been invaded by 2 or 3 of the nearby Primary Schools but the second day was pretty mellow with far fewer kids jumping in the pool and screaming. We also went up north to Moraine State Park to do a nice 15 mile morning bike ride followed by a delicious lunch at The Iron Bridge Restaurant. One day we went down to The Strip for Breakfast at Pamela's and to shop at some of the wholesale shops since it was supposed to be rainy that day.
I did stray from my usual policy of never doing any type of chore during a vacation today by cutting the grass so I wouldn't have to do it this weekend while the baby is with us all day. I also took multiple naps on multiple afternoons and felt somewhat caught up on sleep for the first time since April.
Friday came way too fast and starting tomorrow I will be back in my usual weekend routine and then completely back in the grind when I start work on Monday. This week of being off in the summer even without traveling made me realize that I really need to use up more vacation days in the summer when the weather is nicest.
Even though this long week of vacation is ending I do have a short beach trip coming up at the very end of the month to cap off this summertime. One more relaxing trip to kick back before the Fall Weather and College Football Season starts!
In the past most Americans took on record levels of debt due to certain economic bubbles. Two come to mind. The first bubble I'll mention was the internet stocks bubble back in the late 90's to early 2000's. Lots of people bought or were given shares/options of these stocks and borrowed against the value to buy things they wanted. This turned to massive debt when the stocks crashed and the loans got called in and those people were wiped out.
The housing bubble encouraged people to speculate with real estate. The regulated part of the housing market (Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac) loosened standards as to which loans could be sold to the entities that were backed by the federal government. In addition to buying houses that people could not afford many people actually took on even greater debt by taking on additional loans (debt) against their houses' increasing values. Then the housing bubble crashed and the value of these assets crashed spawning the credit crisis that is stagnating today.
Leaving the politics out of it we do see a cycle that repeats itself. Americans tend to load up on debt until it is no longer sustainable and then they get wiped out. Then they start all over again.
Things seem to be changing now which is a very positive sign. Having been burned enough times by such high debts we are starting to see the savings rate start to increase and Americans are wisely trying to lower their debt obligations so they can live within their means and also have less exposure to financial problems driven by an ever weakening economy and rising unemployment. Ex: Lower expenses means being able to survive on a smaller paycheck for a while until the economy improves.
This is the sort of change that tends to cause newspaper and nightly news shows to write headlines like: "Consumer is on a Spending Strike." Americans are spending less because that is what they can afford to do until the debt mountain is addressed. This is a good thing not a bad thing. It shows that people are starting to act like responsible adults and not spoiled children when it comes to personal finance.
Some short term pain from retailers is to be expected but this will set the stage for long term sustainable growth as the personal balance sheets for individuals improve which will foster financial/economic confidence based on reality.
After the baby was born I tried to keep up a healthy routine (at least from the working out side of things) but after a couple of times when I was 7 minutes into a cardio session and I had to go upstairs to take care of a screaming baby at 0 dark thirty in the morning and ended up walking around like a zombie with no sleep I decided this needed to be put on hold for me to function in my life.
I wisely decided to not bother to weigh myself since I knew it would just annoy me during those times. After a while though the baby started to sleep better through the night and we also got into a new routine that was somewhat predictable. Then I decided that before I completely let my body and my health go to hell I needed to get back into some healthy habits again.
I started with Weekday morning workouts again. Not as long as I would like since I need to shower up and get the baby fed, clothed, to day care, and get back in time to begin work. Still It is better than nothing and it helps me wake up in the morning. The days that I decide to skip this to grab a couple of extra zzz's (not often. only 1x or 2x) I usually feel worse even though I did get the extra sleep.
Starting this week I also decided to start an effort to monitor how much I am eating. I know that 95% of the problem/challenge is on the eating side of the equation. Throw a giant extra load of stress into your life and suddenly all kinds of sugary treats start flying into my mouth. Even when I would have healthy snacks handy I would go for the "Junk" food. Not that there is anything wrong with an occasional cookie but it's not good for it to become a habit. Even after just 5 days of trying to stay away from this stuff I do feel better since I don't have junk snacks every day. Of course by body is fighting me tooth and nail (har har) and feeling hungry is no fun. However, it will take a little time for my body to adjust.
Hopefully this will become more of a healthy lifestyle than a "Resolution" to be abandoned the next time things get rough at work or the baby gets sick. Just like budgeting and living within your means it is a lot easier to talk about resisting overeating than to actually show restraint.
A couple of weeks ago we invested in an Invisible Fence in our yard for the doggie. That first weekend the installer/trainer came and gave us an indoor unit and some flags to begin to train the doggie with the collar so she would start to learn that when she got too close to the flags she gets "corrected." In addition at that point he installed the wire around our property but didn't turn it on (That would be done in the second training session.) So we set up the indoor unit and the flags near the front door so she would not try to charge out the front door when company would come. She did learn to stay away from the flags but she would stay REALLY far away from the flags when she only needed to be a little far away. So we tried training her with lots of treats to get her closer and she also did learn that crossing or getting to close to the flags was bad.
This past weekend we had the second training session where they activated the fence outside and started to train with her to know the boundaries with flags on the borders of our property. She still knew that when the collar is on and when she gets too close to the flags she gets zapped. Problem is that she had a little incident when I took her out on Sunday night that spooked her. Our dog likes to take a dump near the sidewalk in the front yard. Problem is that now this is very close to the area where she will get zapped. So that time when I took her out she decided to get close to her usual spot. Just close enough that if she moved her head that direction she would get zapped. Which she did 3X in a row during her poop. After that she ran back in the house with me but now it takes a lot of encouragement to get her to stay in the backyard and she is not too keen on walking down to the front yard even when she needs to go. Now, my dog is stubborn so I don't think she will be permanently scared but I do want her to feel comfortable enough to enjoy her yard and only pause when she will be coming close to crossing outside of our yard. I thought the training would be more of my stubborn dog trying to challenge the barrier instead of my scaredy dog not wanting to go into the yard.
We have another training session this Saturday Morning. Perhaps they can give us some additional hints to get Maia comfortable enough to run around and play outside without being scared of flags 30+ feet away from her.