Sunday, January 30, 2011

Adventures of advice (not given)

As I look around me everyday, I have so much "advice" I would like to give to the person next to me, whether it be my coworker, my kid, a parent, a complete stranger, etc. You get the point. Pretty much everyone. I rarely do volunteer my opinion, but it is not for lack of desire. I simply keep my mouth shut (when I can) and move forward knowing that if they wanted to know my opinion, that unnamed person would ask. It comes as no surprise that rarely am I asked my opinion. No surprise to me or to you.

So, in light of this, I decided to write down my most common thoughts/advice that would be offered, if asked. Make no mistake that I doubt anyone honestly cares, but it was coming time for another update, and this seemed to fit the part. Aren't all of us bloggers really just egomaniacal enough to think someone actually cares what we think?!

So here goes:

1. Smile! Really, it isn't as bad as you think. Even if they put mustard on your sandwich, and it doesn't taste as good, tomorrow it won't matter. Lighten up! Geez!

2. Do you job, plus. Someone is always looking, even if it isn't your boss, someone will always be aware of what you are, or are not doing. Doing a little more than you have been asked will result in ten times more than you put into it. So even if you don't really want to do that extra thing, and especially if no one has asked you to do it, just do it. Even if your motive at that point is selfish, just do it. Someone will notice. They always do.

3. Try to not air too much dirty laundry or depressing thoughts on FB/Twitter/other social media. While your friends love you and want to know what is going on, daily updates on the terrible pains, sadness, aches, downers, lost sleep, etc, just does not progress the situation in any way. A little of it is okay, but a lot of it is quite frankly unnecessary. (See #1.)

4. Eat healthy when you can when at a restaurant. (Thanks Michael!) If there is anything that you will like that is even slightly healthy, opt for that one instead of the deep fried cheese sticks. Your rear end will appreciate it.

5. Do something nice for your spouse. Even if it is something little. Even if it is #1 of this list and that is all you can muster that day. Most likely they are doing very nice things for you all the time and it is going unnoticed or being taken for granted. (See #2)

6. Tell your kids you love them. All the time. There is no reason EVER to call them bad names or degrade them. You are their world. Act like it.

7. Adopt an animal from the humane society. These sweet creatures WILL end up being the best pet ever and maybe, just maybe, it will result in a "bad" breeder going out of business. It wasn't the dog's fault he ended up in a cage in the shelter with only 4 days left to live...

8. Save. Save your money for retirement and/or kids' schooling and/or mortgage, etc. There is very little reason to drive a $55,000 car if you are making $50,000. Doing so indicates that you may be as egomaniacal as us bloggers and think that someone actually cares what you drive.

9. Realize that you are replaceable, especially at work. While we are all replaceable, we can make it very difficult for our employer to get rid of us by excelling at our job, going above and beyond, being early and staying late, and generally overachieving. See #2.

10. Trust others. Until they give you a reason not to trust them, trust them. Questioning the motives of every person you meet is exhausting. Ask me. I know. Follow rule #1 and see where it goes.

SO, that is the majority of my daily thoughts that I generally do not share with others. I can only wonder what advice I would get from the stranger next to me on the tram, or my colleague at work, or one of the kid's teachers, etc. More than that, I wonder if I would take it to heart... Throw some advice at me and I'll let you know!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Princess Keali turns 4...

Yesterday was a big day in the life of Keali. She was so excited when she woke up, because that day marked her "being a big girl since she is four". Very cute.

We had a great day of celebrating her princess day with multiple wardrobe changes between various pink and purple frilly dresses. One of her gifts included princess "bling" which she proudly flaunted almost all day on her ears and around her neck.

For her party, we had another family (and their two children) and one of Caden's friends from school over. Puzzles, presents, dolls, princess hats, and play doh kept all the kids engaged. The princess cake was as yummy as it was beautiful. Keali is happy to "finally" be four and is already wondering when she gets to turn five. She wishes she could speed up time, and I wish we could slow it down a bit. It was a fun day for all and we look forward to the next birthday!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Leaving a fantastic 2010...

It is safe to say that 2010 proved to be another great year for the Hooper family! It seems like each year gets better and better, so 2011 has a lot to live up to. Just in 2010, Caden learned how to read, Keali learned how to write many of her letters, the family moved to Europe, Scott had a great work year, and I have the best job imaginable. We are truly very fortunate and we appreciate it each day.

December was a very busy and fun month for us. Just a few highlights:

- Sinterklaas came in from Spain and went back again - without Caden or Keali in a burlap sack!

- We had our first visitor from the States (thanks Ashley!) which gave us an opportunity/excuse to go to the Van Gogh museum AND pick up our Christmas tree in typical Dutch fashion (on a bicycle).

- Caden had his first big play at school where he "performed" as a polar bear (super cute!).

- Scott and I made a quick trip to Houston where we were able to see many of our friends.

- We had our first overseas Christmas in Europe. Fortunately the reindeer food enticed Santa's reindeer to come all the way over here so Santa could leave gifts for the kids. Skype allowed us to see our family on Christmas day, but we still missed seeing everyone in person.

- I received my annual painted piggy bank from the kids and LOVED it! That combined with my iPad may point to my best Christmas yet!

- Scott cooked up some excellent dinners for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The European portion sizes went out the window for the holidays!

- We took the kids to see the World Circus. It consists of acts from circus's around the world performing all in one big circus. It was a fantastic show and the kids loved it. I don't think they have ever sat still for so long...

- We found an awesome indoor swimming pool with slides and wave pools and lots of shallow water for the kids to play in. This may be their highlight of the whole month. Everyday they ask if they can go to the "swimmy place".

- And lastly, Scott and I went out for New Year's Eve. We had a delicious dinner at a Michelin rated restaurant and then went out to see the crazies! Trams stop running in A'dam on NYE due to people blowing up firecrackers ON the trams! People were all over the place blowing up fireworks throughout the city, streets, etc. When we came home, the cab couldn't drive us the last block due to the 30+ people blowing fireworks all the way down our street. Now I fully appreciate why Houston has made it illegal to have fireworks in the city limits!

January 2011 brings lots of fun to the party too. Keali turns 4 this month, and I am scheduled to return to the States for about a week. Scott's work churns back up this month, and life just generally returns to normal once the kids are back in school.

We are looking forward to a great 2011!