The Home of Daddy's Day Dare! ~ I am just trying to stay above water

Archive for the month “December, 2011”


As the year draws to a close and we put the year’s events in the rearview mirror, my year ends with a dark and bleak finale.

My back-ups are gone! Aunt Sue and Uncle John went home this morning. It was sad. The girls were both so sad to see them go but none were sadder than dad. Although I did not cry like some of them.

So I need some help here! I need a babysitter for this weekend and next Friday! Can anybody help me out? But it doesn’t stop there….

I grew up with a t-shirt, sneakers and jeans mentality. I have nooo sense of fashion. I have matured into polo shirts and dockers. So I have a hard time making these Princesses look like the royalty they are. These girls are blessed with so many clothes from family and friends that they don’t have to wear the same outfit to church twice. I heard that was a big deal if you were a girl! Yet, I still need Mom’s help in getting them ready.

This year for Christmas the girls got some fabulous outfits again! Yet a few of these clothes I have no idea on how to use them. Can you help me out with this please?

First are these red clogs for my 3 year old. I have to say I really like these (which is unsettling in itself) but how or wear would she wear these? Not to church. Not to play outside. When would these be appropriate? I need some guidance because I really want to see her in these.
Next take a look at these boots. Super cute I suppose but are they a  fashion statement or protective footwear for when it rains?
And then these hats. I understand these hats are really popular in the northeast (wear the gift bearers came from). They must be because each girl received 2 hats. But are you kidding me? Do kids actually wear these?

Even as a kid, the other kids would wanna point and laugh I thought. Then my oldest put the hat on and it had an almost ‘drug-like’ effect on her. See for yourself….

Crazy! I am glad they are padded well. They will keep the girls warm the 3 weeks of cold weather we get here!

On the other hand, these boat shoes are very appropriate for our coastal area. They are very cute! But what color scheme do I match with these? Help please?
Then there is this ‘Max-the-dog’ hat from the ‘Grinch’ movie that someone with enough insight saw fit to get yours truly. HMPH!  If I wore that out in public the authorities would take my kids from me!

So what should I do? Do you have any ideas or suggestions for any of these gifts? If so, please comment with them.  Your ideas are better than mine! Its not like I am not grateful for these gifts. I just wasn’t raised with enough fashion sense to make use of them. Help?

Pop Quiz!

So it is four days after Christmas. Most of our Christmas decorations are still up. We still have 6 months worth of cookies and other sweets stacked on our breakfast bar. New presents are still laying helter-skelter on our living room floor. So I was curious to see what my oldest daughter Dylan, at 3 3/4 years old, gained from all this year’s activity and celebration. As a fairly new parent I am always eager to see any development for our girls. Lets see what Dylan retained this Christmas in this year’s Pop Quiz:
1) Why do we celebrate Christmas?  A= “I don’t know”  …Daddy (disappointed sigh)

2) What is your favorite thing about Christmas? A= Disney Princess Castle

3) What will you miss the most about Christmas? A= “Hmmmm? Aunt Sue! (After some heavy coaching from Aunt Sue)

4) Where did all your presents come from? A = without hesitation, “Santa!”

5) What was your favorite present? A = Princess Castle!”

6) What did your little sister like the most about Christmas? A = “Winnie the pooh and the pink one” (Piglet)

7) What was your favorite thing you ate this year? A =  “Macaroni and Cheese!”    (What? With all these cookies?!!)

8) How long should we celebrate Christmas? A = “Until Friday.” (Aunt Sue and Uncle John go home on Friday)

9) How much did we spend this year to celebrate Christmas? A = “Hmmm….a little” ( this was her hardest one to answer)

10) What will you look forward to next year for Christmas? A = “Playing outside.” ~ she says this as we are going to ChuckECheese this afternoon. Her answer could change then.

So, if you want to have a truly rewarding holiday with your 3 or 2 year olds, a few secrets discovered from our Christmas celebration this year were:  get them a Princess Castle, spend a little money but celebrate for 5 days, have plenty of holiday Mac and Cheese on hand (forget the cookies…they are unappreciated evidently) and have a favorite relative on hand so they can play outside. From the mouths of babes.. This is what it is all about!

I have to do a better job I guess! (Sigh)


What about you and your Christmas? What was treasured by your kids this year? Let us know in the “Comments” if you have any insights to the magic of Christmas with kids!

Tight-Wad Wednesdays – Picking a Winner

I know what you are thinking. You are looking for an image of some toddler with her finger up her nose. It was tempting! While the opportunities do present them self, I did not want to teach my girls to go for gold whenever a camera was presented. How could we live that down?

I hope to make this quick today as I have a need to get to the gym. We have a reservoir  of cookies, brownies, chocolate,my favorite chips (that do not have a Frito Lay logo on them!) and ice cream left over. Then my brother arrives last night with two more containers of cookies. OMG! You have to try them all! Their has to be a simpler solution!

So far on Tight-Wad Wednesdays we have talked about how you can send your prodigy to college for FREE. We also discussed the importance and benefits of starting early and making consistent, steady investments over time. Today I would like to offer some tips on how to pick some winning investments to grow your 529 plan over time.

First, I have to mention, these are some easy, non-time consuming tips. They are by far not the only method for picking winners. If you have a reliable, non-greedy Financial Advisor that has you in a 529 plan already, they would be an excellent resource as well. ~they don’t need to make $ off your kid’s college fund though!

Second, these tips are for someone investing over a long-term, meaning 10 years or more. Things happen in the stock market that make for 2 or 3 years down turns in the market (or longer). If the need to access your college saving plan is under 10 years a more conservative plan may be in order.

Going back to the playground days, when it was time to pick my team in soccer or football, I chose the best, the fastest, the strongest, the ones that had history performing their best to help MY team win. Because I like to win. I want to win when it comes to setting up my stock portfolios as well. Here are a list of the winners:

The grid and colors above represents the performance of different asset classes over time, from the top performers each year to the worst. You know which ones I want, right? The most consistent winners each year.

Look across the top line. They are the top performing asset classes each year. These are the classes you look for in picking mutual funds in your 529 portfolio. You, want the best of the best, right? You want the studs! What are the colors that stand out to you and their associated class?

Small Stocks, Large Stocks, and International Stocks. Better defined for mutual funds these are: the Small-cap or small company funds, Large-cap or large companies, and International funds, investing in great international companies. These are the monsters you want working for you!

For some clarity, Small cap stocks are small companies with new, great ideas. In a normal economy the sky is the limit as far as their growth. International funds are funds with great companies across the globe. (although less great today) The world is full of great companies, outside the US. You should be apart of their growth, right? The Large cap sign in this example is misleading as Large caps usually fall into 2 or more classes. The best two are Large-cap Value (Huge companies that are currently under priced) and Large Cap Growth (The 800 pound gorillas with more resources than their competition).

So pick a winning team! It would be smart to allocate funds equally to Small Cap stocks, Large Cap Stocks, and International funds. A little more diversification, while still having all the winners on your team would be using the two different US Large Cap segments, Value and Growth.

I also weight the Small Cap and International a tad heavier in my portfolio since there are two purchases in US Large Cap. It may look something like this: 30% Sm. Cap., Lg. Cap-Value = 20%, Lg. Cap Growth = 20%, and International or Global funds at 30%. To me choosing anything other than these proven winners over time is like picking and ‘average team’. Who wants to do average with your investments?

So you see what you want in your portfolio? You want to win and your kids should go to a great school because you want the best for them. You naturally want the most assets available in your 529 plan  (and less out of your retirement savings). You go to pick a great performing mutual fund in your preferred asset class and you see your 529 has 3-5 funds to choose from its asset class. Now what? How can you pick the best from the best? How can you tell a Dog from a Star?

I’ll try to make some sense of that next week in Tight-Wad. …because I have inhaled my daily ration of cookies during this post. I need to get to the gym! If only my family knew the only thing that my girls need to eat is a few tasty flavors of lip gloss! I could still get these pants snapped then!

And to all a good night…

Merry Christmas to you! We hope your holiday was filled with great treasures and memories. I know, depending on families, it can be a peaceful day with some well earned rest or something more like the 4 Christmas and races to get to other places. Either way, I hope yours was tops!

In reflecting back to our celebration I have to say I am going to get all sappy one last time before I return to Mr. Sarcastic in 2012. I am afraid I am losing my rep…

This year we had a unique perspective (to us) on the Christmas season. You see earlier this year our family was reduced to a one income family. It was quite a shock to us but we are going to be OK. But this year we could not really participate in all the trading of gifts however, which has led us to this view.

Every year we have always participated in the gift giving, as most people do. If you are over the age 16 I really believe you look forward to the ‘giving’ and less to the ‘receiving’. And that’s OK. It is the spirit of the season. Its what we all do every year.

We / I always look for the special gifts, the gifts to make others happy, the gag gifts, the gifts you can’t wait for someone to open. It’s the season for giving and it is fun. And we look forward to the opening of gifts and spreading OUR good wishes in hopes they are received with the spirit and love that was intended.

This year we were largely reduced to a spectators in this holiday gift giving unfortunately. It was almost like we could step back and watch the spirit of Christmas from the bleachers. You know what? What an amazing game to watch!

This year we could witness and absorb all the love that others actually put into the Christmas season. We could witness the love, the thought process behind the love, and see how others plan to spread the ‘season of giving’, instead of just getting caught up in our own giving. We could taste it, smell it, and see it. It was quite a show!

We were visited by as many as 6 or 7 real live Angels this year. And our kids had their best Christmas ever. See for yourself….

Well as ‘Best Ever’s go it was only their 4th and 2nd Christmases respectively. But they had fun. And we had fun. But I won’t drill home the details for fear of starting to sound like some TV Christmas special. But I would like to leave you with one thought.

Sometime between now and the new year, block out all your wonderful giving and generosity moments this year and take a few quiet moments to consider what others have done for you. Consider the gifts of time or distance traveled, packages or maintaining endless friendships. Take time to notice that Others Rock!

I want to thank all the Angels in our life for making it special this and every year.

Merry Christmas!

PS: I finished this post in under 30 minutes this morning as both of our girls are upstairs playing with their Aunt Sue. The gifts just keep on coming….

Progress so far…

This is a post originally published 12/24/2011. Yes, Christmas eve on my second month of blogging.This was one of the bright spots amid all the stress of preparing for Santa…reliving Christmas past once again:

Yesterday we had to traverse the Mall-WalMart-Best Buy triangle gauntlet on the way to Target. Its our local version of the Holiday frenzy that keeps you from getting to anywhere on time.

The cars waiting to get in the Wal-mart parking lot (let call lot A) were lined up back to the Best Buy parking lot. Cars waiting to get in the Best Buy parking lot (lets call lot B) were stacked up all the way back to Wal-mart. And then there was the mall traffic making traffic come to a standstill.

As bad as it was my wife pointed out trying to make it to the Target today, the 23rd, would not be as insane as Christmas eve.

She’s probably right. I say probably because I am not going to find out.

I rounded up items off the list we needed at the Target with no incidents and headed back.

We got behind a pickup truck with a bale of hay in the back of it while wading back through the MWBB triangle.

Dylan’ say’s, “what’s that in the back of the truck?”

I said “a bale of hay.

She asks, “What’s the bale of hay for Daddy?”

Feeling like a sitting duck for a list of 20 questions while sitting in traffic I said, ”I don’t know Dylan. What do you think?”

Dylan thought, “Hmmmm.” Then she blurts out, “Maybe it for the baby Jesus in the manger!” ( she is only 3 years old this particular year)

I am making progress with this girl. Last week she couldn’t make it past the sheep and the donkeys in the baby Jesus story. Maybe she is listening after all?

She walked in my bedroom this morning and said, “Santa didn’t come last night!”

One more morning of this! Progress.


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