Thursday, January 16, 2014

monster puppy strikes again!

this past Christmas we got Allie a set of three stuffed squeaker toys.  this wasn’t her first set of squeakers; she’s had a few others.  she loves squeakers! and by ‘squeakers’ i literally mean the squeaker part of the stuffed toy.  when they are new she finds great joy in squeaking them at our legs until we tug with her but, eventually she gets bored and that’s when this happens:

the other squeaker toys have all met their tragic end in similar fashion.  their heads are punctured, their stuffing gets scattered, and they lay limp on the floor until mom puts them in the toy bucket.  on the rare occasion they have a trace of stuffing left and still manage to squeak she pulls them out and tares them apart until the white plastic squeaker is found.  she’s relentless!

at the end of the massacre the living room is covered in a mess of white fluff and Allie rests peacefully on the couch – squeaking.  Cody and i pick it all up, save her from the squeaker (the last thing we need her to do is eat that darn thing!), and cuddle her as if she’s done nothing wrong.  and so it goes…

while wer’re on the subject of Allie, here’s a picture of her and Cody racing over the weekend at Saylorville.  Needless to say it wasn’t quite a photo finish. i like to think this picture demonstrates her sportsmanship.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

operation: recharge, reevaluate, reconnect

the holiday season wears me out, plain and simple.  and each year i seem to add more to my plate, as if it isn’t already chaotic enough with seven christmasas to attend.  this year, for instance, i decided it was absolutely necessary to meticulously wrap all of our gifts with plain brown paper, ribbon, cinnamon sticks, and greenery – all of them!  i also thought it imparative to make a ton of homemade goodies and stay up late at night to do my shopping online, thinking that it would somehow save me massive amounts of time – false!

needless to say i wanted to spend the first part of 2014 enjoying a little r&r.  i wanted to get back to spending time at home, spending one on one time with my husband, saving a little money, and planning for 2014.  for the last two weeks that’s what we’ve been doing.

last weekend we had a spa night, at home.  i transformed our spare bathroom into a calming oasis complete with candles, massage oils, champagne and fruit and enjoyed a long bath.  it was incredible!    i can’t remember the last time i’ve spent a weekend relaxing, only relaxing.  actually, i don’t think i ever have.  after that Cody and i treated each other to massages then…let Allie in to sleep since it was negative one bazillion.  just call me Casanova.  this is as romantic as it gets.

feeling exceptionally energized at work this week i attended a training session on financial planning and stayed focused the entire time!  a large part of my job is that i plan and coordinate training for our employees (600+).  the best part of my job is that i get to sit through several training sessions and as someone who likes to learn i get a lot of satisfaction from attending.  pretty nerdy, i know! anyway, this week’s session got me thinking a lot about planning for retirement.  here were my big takeaways:
  1. retirement happens when the ‘pain’ of going to work intersects with contentment
  2. determine your own level of contentment – then plan accordingly
  3. over estimate: plan on living to be 100, calculate higher than average inflation rates, and lower than average returns
  4. a little more now goes a long way in the future. as in many more years of living ‘contently’ in the future
  5. have the conversation.  have it with your spouse, significant other, kids

at the end of the class we were given an envelope and a piece of paper.  the purpose was for privately writing down a financial goal and sealing it up.  the goal is not to be looked at for six months.  everyone in the class sealed their envelope and i now have the pleasure of mailing the sealed envelopes back to employees in June.

this class got my wheels turning.  i wanted to write down some goals for 2014 but, i wanted to do it with Cody.  i liked the envelope idea so i stole it.  this past weekend Cody and i enjoyed a long dinner out at The Cheesecake Factory. (nice dinners out don’t happen very often; we’re Quiznos and sports bar kind of people.)  our dinner conversation included us writing out our goals, together, in the following areas for 2014: personal growth, relationships, health and fitness, financial, and career development.

we put our goals in an envelope and will open it again in December.  i’m excited for what we have planned and even more so to see how this little experiment helps us grown in each of the areas.
until next time.

Friday, January 3, 2014

gratitude for the past, optimism for the future: goodbye 2013

it’s been a big, busy year for these Sobotkas and for that we are grateful.  before i started this blog post i made a list of all the things we did this year and was sincerely surprised by just how much we squeezed into the past 12 months.  we are constantly on the move but, i suppose it takes a moment of reflection to appreciate it all.

side note: i’m on the move is a phrase that Cody jokingly uses when he’s trying to climb the stairs at night or crawl out of bed on the weekend.  yet when he says it he’s usually not moving at all.  it’s one of those phrases that gets us laughing out loud (and has me laughing now) but, for the purpose of this post it’s hardly a joke.  we were literally on the move in 2013.

in January, after about a month of ‘homelessness’ we settled into our new home.  we love the location and have been fortunate that our neighbors are so friendly and welcoming.  the help shovel our driveway and sidewalks, volunteer to dog sit, and have invited us to the annual block party.  (the block party is kind of a big deal; dj, fire truck, blocked streets, food, tents – the whole bit! we couldn’t attend this year, maybe in 2014.)

about mid-March i suffered a severe case of cabin fever and found myself furiously spending moola on tickets, trips, and clothes all in an effort to make our summer ‘epic.’  several hundred dollars later we were well on our way to bankruptcy.  miraculously my symptoms subsided a couple of weeks later when i realized i was poor.  in all seriousness though i had planned some pretty awesome experiences and we were still financially solvent.  nearly every week of our summer was booked but we didn’t seem to mind.

summer 2013 consisted of a Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan concert in St. Louis, MO (maybe the best concert i’ve been to yet!), celebrating the Fourth of July camping along the Mississippi, taking an unforgettable trip to Vegas with some pretty amazing friends, re-landscaping our yard, cashing in on a hot air balloon ride, and getting a puppy!

fall 2013 proved to be just as busy and we settled into a much slower rhythm by November.  we spent our first anniversary in Chicago watching the sunset over lake Michigan and a Braves games during a long weekend getaway.  in September i started a new job with the City of Ames as a Human Resources Analyst and Cody was promoted. (that was a good week!)  i planned and hosted a baby shower for Rachel in October and my little sister, Brandea, married her best friend.

the holiday season kept us busy again traveling to see all of our family but the highlights were definitely the newest additions to our families.  Our nephew Nathan Michael was born on December 19th and we made a trip to Kansas City to meet him.  we are beyond thrilled to be an aunt and uncle!  Joe popped the questions on December 23rd to his girlfriend of 8+ years.  Heather will officially be my sister-in-law  come October 2014!!!!

so what will 2014 hold? only time can truly tell although we do have a couple of exciting things in the works 😉 for more you’ll have to stay tuned.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

a glimpse into our world

a few years ago, while i was working at ARAG, a co-worker of mine shared her blog with me.  well actually she shared a picture of a cake that she had made for her daughter’s birthday – on her blog.  anyway, i was so amused by the concept that i stored the blog address in my favorites and vowed to start a blog when i had children.  then this year my sister-in-law, Rachel, starting blogging as a way to keep family and friends updated on her pregnancy.  it’s been so fun to read up on their journey and stay connected to them through her blog.  i’ve learned so much more about my in-laws and am surprised by just how much we have in common!  since then i’ve been toying with the idea of actually launching my own to keep all of the people in our lives up to date on what we have going on. 

i’ve decided to start it now, sans children. (sorry for anyone who got excited – #letdown.)  the new year seemed as good a time as any.  so here it is.  it won’t be super exciting because let’s face it our lives are not all that riveting, but it will allow us to share our life as it happens with the people who care to know.