Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Auld Lang Syne


Should all temptations be forgot,
And never brought to dine...



Should all temptations be forgot,
I'll lose weight in '09!

In preparation for getting back on the Weight Watchers wagon (translation: clearing the house of sweets) I successfully came home and ate Every. Last. Christmas. Cookie.

Now to finish off that apple pie before midnight...Cheers!




Monday, December 29, 2008

Green Christmas


'Twas the 25th of December, but no snow was found
As Ib and Lisa traveled east, Ohio Valley bound.
Grandma in the kitchen making a fuss;
While Grandpa was proud, showing support for The Bus.

Dad thought of a song that we all should sing,
Then danced around in Christmas-cookie bling.

Seeester and Matt giggling on the couch,
With the smell of roast beast filling the house.

Ib with his syrup: a half-gallon jug;
This, he said, was a whole lot of love!

Grandma loved her blue birds,

And Mom: a new sweater!

Matching hats for the boys make things even better.

We didn't need snow or wintery weather;

Our Christmas was perfect because we were together!

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like...


Christmas in the desert takes some getting used to. I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread my first year here. Sitting in the back yard in a t-shirt looking at the snow on the mountains: That was pretty cool. But, believe it or not, the lack of changing seasons really puts a damper on my holiday spirit. The fact that we're away from the family doesn't help matters either, but we do the best we can.

Sunday evening we were invited to the Howell Family's Annual Winterhaven Walk. Winterhaven is a Tucson neighborhood that takes Christmas decorating very seriously. In fact, it is a requirement of the homeowner's association that residents must decorate. The 2 weekends before Christmas, the neighborhood is blocked off from vehicles so folks can walk through, or take a horse-drawn wagon ride, and enjoy the lights.

We decided we'd take the "kids" this year. Vinnie isn't a fan of the cold, so we dug out his little fleece coat. I made him wear his reindeer antlers and Ib made him a jingle bell necklace, so I figured he might as well be totally mortified. Cooper, on the other hand, is usually a trooper. But Ib thought he should have some sort of protection from the cold.


He got out an old pair of sweat pants and made a custom shirt for Cooper. It turned out pretty well, though Cooper wasn't thrilled with the idea of wearing anything. It wasn't nearly as cold this year, so that was a bonus. Ib was pretty proud of his handywork.


The kids were all bundled up, so we set off for the Howell's. They live about 3 blocks from Winterhaven, which is really great! It's so easy to find parking and they are such gracious hosts, putting on the best spreads of goodies and Mmmmm...hot chocolate!

This is one of my favorite houses in Winterhaven. It's just so bright! And they have some of the tallest palm trees (wrapped in lights of course) that I've ever seen!

It's hard to appreciate just how tall these things are. Two years, and I haven't been able to get them all in the frame yet.


This is one of the other impressive displays. These folks have incorporated music, lights and water. It's sort of like a mini Bellagio. I can't imagine the time that must have gone into putting this all together. (Sorry about all the mindless chatter in the background.) Hope you enjoy!


video

Our next stop is Pennsylvania/Ohio....we'll be home for Christmas!


Wishing everyone a joyous Christmas, from the desert!

Love,

The Contessas

Monday, December 15, 2008

Early Christmas Surprise


Back in July I made the transition from production graphics into the "upstairs" design department. Now, rather than make other people's ideas come to life, I get the chance to use my creativity and put that college degree to good use.

I've spent the past 5 months adapting to my new duties and surroundings and have received nothing but positive feedback so far. In fact, I've already got a handful of salespeople and project coordinators who specifically request me to work on their projects. Very encouraging!

Today, my supervisor's boss presented me the opportunity to move to a salaried position. I decided to accept, especially since there are some nice perks that come with the deal. On paper, it appears that I'll be making an extra $.15/hr. The nice part is I'll actually have to work a lot less to earn that money! This year alone, I put in 225 hours of overtime (and that was much less than usual). So, it turned out to be a pretty big raise if you ask me! There is a lot more flexibility in my hours and some holidays that used to be unpaid, I found out are super-secret salary paid holidays. Score! There will occassionally be times that I'll want to (or need to) work on stuff at home in the evenings, or on weekends. And for that extra time, my supervisor is really cool about giving a random day off with pay.

I'm going to finish out the year with my same early hours. But starting in January I'm going to get an extra hour of beauty sleep in the morning: Start work at 7:00, take my hour lunch and be in the gym by 4:00. I'm really looking forward to this next step in my career and emersing myself in design again.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

VICTORY!


You may recall hearing about last year's rodent issues. It involved a rent-a-cat and the back seat of my car turning into a litter box...

Apparently, the smartest mice in Tucson flock to our house. Every morsel I ever put in a trap disappeared, yet, the only thing we ever caught was Cooper. I don't recommend those sticky traps...

Anyway, Friday night Ib and I were watching movies. I thought I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. Of course, when I looked, there was nothing. Two or three times I caught a glimpse of something before I finally got a full-on view of a mouse running from under my computer desk to behind the TV. I let out a hoot and Ib thought I'd lost my mind. I got up and set a trap right in its path and went back to the movie.

Before long, we had both dozed off. I woke up to a scratching sound. I thought it was the blinds, but once I opened my eyes I nearly jumped out of my skin. That mouse had climbed up the potted palm tree in the corner of the living room. It was just sitting on the branch like it owned the place. I screamed for Ib to wake up, because I knew no one would believe me without a witness. We've got circus mice.

It jumped out of the tree and went back into hiding. Ib went to bed and I waited up trying to get a picture of it in the tree again. Finally, I admitted defeat and called it a night.

Morning brought another empty trap. No sign of the little guy all day. Until we sat down to another evening of movies. I saw it run behind the TV again. At that point, Ib suggested we catch it. Since it was too smart for the traps, and we knew right where it was hiding, we'd just catch it and put it outside.


So I positioned myself on one side of the TV with a baseball bat, while Ib and Cooper staked out the otherside with a box and flashlight. I banged on the TV stand and that little rat streaked across the living room. Now it was hiding under the rock cabinet. So Ib set up barricades and we tried to flush it out of that hiding spot.

I screamed like a girl and back across the living room it went. This time, he went straight out across the floor...no hugging the walls. He knew we were right on his tail. Cooper finally spotted and darted after him. But when he got to the middle of the living room, there was no sign of the mouse, and he spun around chasing his tail trying to figure out where it had gone. If only we'd had the video camera set up...

We thought he'd gone under the couch, so Ib lifted that up, dumping a sleeping Vinnie onto the floor in the process. No mouse. We checked behind the bookshelf on the other side of the room. Bingo! The mouse ran towards the front door then, only inches away from freedom, turned around and went back behind the bookshelf. Cooper was furiously digging at the carpet.

One more shake of the shelf and he took off running again. This time, he ran along the windows behind the couch and stopped for a breather behind the blinds. That was his fatal mistake. I shrieked for Cooper and pointed out the furry scoundrel.

With all his laser-pointer training, Cooper sprung on the mouse with cat-like reflexes and the chase was over.


I had to hold him to keep him from eating the thing. It was pretty gross. Then Ib gave it a good whack with the baseball bat to make sure it wasn't just "playing dead". Then he flushed it down the toilet...


So far, we haven't seen any more mice. Let's hope they finally got the idea!

YAY COOPER!



Friday, December 5, 2008

My Husband: The Comedian


Ib's had his eye on these shoes for awhile and I wanted to get them for him for Christmas. So I ordered them online but, I was so excited, I couldn't wait to give them to him. I'm really bad at surprises.

He sure does look snazzy! And he absolutely loves the shoes.

So then he writes a check for the bills...this is the thanks I get for being the coolest wife ever...




Dead-Beat Blogger


It's funny...before I started blogging, it seemed like I always had something "I should write about". Now, I'm either too lazy or just that boring! So for my faithful readers, I apologize.

I'll try to do better.

Really.


With that said, here are a few shots from our Thanksgiving.

We had a wonderful dinner at The Rawn's, joined by Melissa's folks and Cathy from Albuquerque. I learned all about The Wiggles.


We have so many things to be thankful for: Our families coming together, Ib's new career taking off, good health and good friends (who graciously invite us to join them for the Holiday) We love you guys!


Friday we were sitting at home when we realized we still had 2 1/2 days off! We toyed with the idea of going to San Diego to have lunch on the beach. Then Ib said if we were going that far, we might as well go to LA to see his friend A.J.

So I said, if we're going to go to LA, we might as well keep on driving and go to Santa Cruz, since ultimately, that's where we would have liked to have been, anyway.

Then we came to our senses...trying to do 26 hours of driving plus spending time (awake!) with our family in 2 1/2 days...just not realistic. We'll save that trip for the next full 4-day weekend.

Phoenix is much closer and we hadn't seen Hass & Amy or Farlan & Shanika since the wedding. So we packed up the dogs and drove up for the night. It turned out to be pretty eventful, since we almost added a new family member.

This little guy was wandering outside Hass & Amy's fence. I felt bad for him, all matted up and neglected. So I talked to him through the fence and pet him to let him know someone cared. He had a collar but no tags. He was a dirty little Yorkie, but Ib was not budging on adopting him. Amy was almost considering it, but Hass (and the cats) squashed that idea. So, sadly, I left him on the other side of the fence and went to wash my hands. I came back out to find him waiting outside the sliding door. Ooops! He must have squeezed in the gate, but we were all kind of shocked to see him there. Eventually, we called animal control to pick him up. We knew they'd find a better home for him.

The rest of the night we were entertained by Cooper trying to attack Jayden's light-up shoes. He thought it was the laser-pointer that he loves to chase. Then Amy and I ate pie and watched ghost stories on TV til we scared ourselves silly. It was really nice to see everyone.