Thursday, April 30, 2015

Books! Books! Books! Allena's Recent Reads

I've been a reading machine lately. I realized I had several books that I wanted to share that I've read, so I thought it could be fun to go over all the books I've read every month or two, and I'd love it if you'd give me an suggestions for my ever growing book list.

So without further adieu...

My recent reads over about the last 2 months...

A Clash of Kings - Book 2 in the Song of Fire and Ice series {a.k.a. The Game of Thrones books} - I think this series is so awesome - it's got a little bit of fantasy, murder mysteries, crazy families, suspense, adventure...just about everything you could want.

Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America - I honestly don't even know how to put into words my feelings on this book. The might be the book that has had the most emotional impact on me in a LONG time. {Synopsis from On a warm spring evening in South Los Angeles, a young man is shot and killed on a sidewalk minutes away from his home, one of the thousands of black Americans murdered that year. His assailant runs down the street, jumps into an SUV, and vanishes, hoping to join the scores of killers in American cities who are never arrested for their crimes. But as soon as the case is assigned to Detective John Skaggs, the odds shift. Here is the kaleidoscopic story of the quintessential, but mostly ignored, American murder—a “ghettoside” killing, one young black man slaying another—and a brilliant and driven cadre of detectives whose creed is to pursue justice for forgotten victims at all costs.} Many of the detectives discussed in this book had the attitude of letting these 'bad guys' kill each other. There are so many problems with that thought process. First, even' bad guys' are somebody's children. Second, many of these so-called bad guys were born into a system set-up to fail them - the cycle of poverty creates so many countless problems I never thought of until recent years. Third, many of these victims were truly innocent and to quote the author 'what killed Bryant was the one fact about himself he couldn't change: he was black'. I think everybody should read this book. Period.

What Alice Forgot - I am woefully late to the Liane Moriarty party and could kick myself. This was light and fun with a touch of thought-provoking-ness added in to make it a little more meaningful than the typical chick-lit book. Quick and light read, perfect for anyone who enjoys a fun story. Can't wait to read more by Liane!

Heroes are My Weakness - A very typical romance novel, and I loved it! It took me a couple of chapters to get into the main character but I couldn't put this one down. 

Sitting Still Like a Frog - Parents of hyperactive kids need this book. Really anyone could benefit from this, but I think it's going to really help us with Trent. This book is all about 'mindfulness exercises' to help you center yourself, focus, be calm, increase concentration...who couldn't benefit from this?!

So that's what I've been reading lately! I've got some stuff on reserve at the library, and we have book club coming up in May - lots of continued great reading! I'm also going to unofficially do a book challenge with my friend Amy, so I'll share that with y'all next week. {Sidebar - This weekend I am going to take Trent to the library so we can get library cards for our new library. To say I am excited is an understatement!}

What about you? What have you been reading?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Comparing Childhoods: Brent and Allena

I saw this on another blog, and it seemed like a great idea - how do mine and Brent's childhoods compare to our children's. I want to first compare my upbringing to Brent's, and then we'll see how that compares to the kiddos.  Neat idea, right?

My initial thoughts are that all 3 sets of our childhoods are very similar which is honestly my goal. I think Brent and I both had pretty idyllic childhoods, and I really hope that our children will one day look back on their childhood and feel the same way.

Family dynamics:
First, Brent and I both grew up in a family of 4 as the second {same sex} child. Brent and his brother are 4 years apart while Patty and I are only 20 months apart.

Patty and Allena

Brian and Brent

I also find it interesting that both sets of our parents were high school sweethearts. My parents dated in high school and then on-and-off through college {they went to different schools} and then got married about a year after my dad got his bachelor's degree {my mom is older...scandalous...and had been working for a year}. Brent's parents dated through high school and got married when Janet was 18 and Harold was 21. Neither went to college after high school, but Janet did go start college when Brent was in elementary school and graduated in 1999 as the first person in her family to graduate!

Brent and I both grew up in moderately religious families. My mom is Catholic and my dad is Methodist, but we have always gone to the Catholic church as a family. Brent's mom is Methodist, and his dad is Catholic, and their involvement has changed over the years. Brent went to the Methodist church as a young child, and then started going to the Catholic church with his dad probably around middle school.

SAHM vs. Working Mom:
Both Brent and I grew up with working moms. My mom was able to stay home with Patty and me until I was about 1, but then she went back to work. I feel like we had a pretty good gig with 2 teachers for parents - it was great having our parents home in the summers and over holidays...until it wasn't great {ahem...probably middle school...ha}. Brent's parents both worked for state agencies, so his mom was able to stay home for I think 8 or 12 weeks. {Don't get me started on the travesty that is the typical American maternity leave.}

Big city vs. small town living:
Technically, the towns Brent {Austin} and I {Pflugerville} grew up in are next to each other, and the part of Austin where Brent's from is in the Pflugerville school district {hence how we met}, but I would say there were some differences for us. Austin is definitely a big city while Pville is a suburb and was a big farming community, so I think there's a much more 'country' feel to Pville. Pretty much ALL of Brent's family {grandparents, etc.} were in Austin when he was a kid, while ALL of my family lived in even smaller/countrier towns. My parents are from a tiny, tiny farming community {population: 1,000}. So I spent a lot of my childhood in a much more 'country' setting.

Brent and I both went to public school all the way through. We were in the same school district but only overlapped at a 5th grade center and high school {where we met}. However, I will say that Brent's elementary/middle school at times were rougher than mine.

I think that pretty nicely sums up my childhood compared to Brent's. Stay tuned to read my thoughts on the kiddos!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Weekend Shenanigans

It was our first weekend in our new hood...and we went out of town for a wedding, ha! {Sidebar: Things are slowly coming together at the house, but I foresee it taking quite a while. 2 jobs + 2 kids = not a lot of unpacking time.}

But first, Friday after I got the kids from school, we went on a walk in the neighborhood. It was just great knowing this is the place we'll spend many an evening...walking to the park, riding bikes...

These 2 just melt my heart.

Saturday I took the kids to my parents {and I felt SO terrible about and the kids literally just stayed with them for 5 days, they helped us move, and then they had to babysit}, and then we hit the road for College Station {whoop!}. We were able to stay at some friends' parents' house which made it so nice.

The wedding was nice, and the reception was so fun. We were there with 8 other friends and danced, laughed...just had a good ol' time.

Being sweet

Being silly

The girls being sweet

Silly selfies...are you sensing a theme here?

And then the glow sticks came out... Somehow we turned into 12-year-olds and had so much fun with those glow sticks!

And just like that Sunday morning came and it was time to head home. I am such an old grandma when I travel. I took one of the kids' sound machines to help me sleep and used my essential oils and still just don't sleep good if I'm not in my bed, ha. So Sunday consisted of grocery shopping, a tiny bit of organizing/unpacking, and family time. 

Overall, a really great weekend!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Five on Friday

How about some mundane randomness for a change instead of all things house?


Vikings I just started watching this show. My sister has been telling me forever to watch it and then a friend started it and also said it was awesome. I'm only 1 episode in and am debating trying to get Brent to watch it with me...


Amope Pedi Perfect I wouldn't say this is the most amazing invention ever, but I do love it. My heels get rough so quickly in between pedicures and this really helps! So happy to have a way to stretch the pedis out a little. {Although if I'm being completely honest I wish weekly pedicures were in the budget more than I wish to have this tool. grin}


Naked Grape Moscato Target has had this wine for like $4. I love it. That is all.


Threshold by Target I am becoming obsessed with all things Threshold. Sheets, shower curtains, rugs, towels...this line at Target is awesome but not pricey. We obviously want good quality for our house but at the same time don't want to break the bank. And by not spending too much it allows me to be my usual fickle self and change my mind and buy something new in a year.


These two The past week has been so tough on our little nuggets. Drew pretty much won't let me out of her sight, and Trent has been a little more...well...let's say emotional. Luckily we aren't going anywhere ever again {or for a really, really long time!}, so now it's just providing them the security they need. But I think they nailed the first night in the new house. And yes, for night 2, everyone had real beds and sheets. {grin}

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

We Closed! We Wrote Checks! We Have Keys!

Yes, folks, you read that right!! I am typing this post in our new office {although sitting on the floor because we don't have a chair}. We are about 1% unpacked and about .02% organized.

Allena, where's the soap? I want to take a shower. Crickets...

You mean you don't know what box you packed the soap in? Crickets...

Let's see - over the past 5 days we have had stuff in:
a) our storage unit
b) our friends' garage
c) my parents' house/garage
d) my car
e) Brent's truck
f) Brent's parents' house
g) Brent's dad's truck

So no, I don't remember where the soap is! {grin}


WE'RE IN OUR HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Soap be damned!

Cue the angels singing.

Moving is not any fun - it's stressful and hard on everyone. Brent and I are both trying to remember that as Trent acts out a million times worse than usual and Drew clings to me. But we are so happy to be in our new {wonderful, beautiful, magnificent, glorious} home.

An official tour to follow...but give me some time to find the soap. {grin}

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Show & Tell Tuesday: How We Named the Kiddos!

I'm linking up with Momfessionals again for another Show & Tell Tuesday. I really liked this topic: How we picked our kids' names.

Trent Joseph {Here's his birth story}

Man, Brent and I fought over naming Trent. We always knew a boy would have Brent's middle name {Joseph} and a girl would have mine {Kathleen}. But our first born was 'Baby Boy' from 20 weeks onward, and we couldn't come close to agreeing on anything past xx Joseph. Names we discussed included Miller, Brewer, Rylan, Drew, name a few. But nothing even made the short list when we went to have him. I was pulling for Miller, and I honestly can't even remember what Brent liked. Probably Drew. Because he wanted to call him D.J. {Gag}

Having the last name Gurley makes it challenging to name kids. For a boy, Brent knew it needs to be a strong name to offset the tease-able last name. I didn't like anything beginning with a 'G' {sounded too cutesy}, and I wanted a name to not be in the Social Security's Top 100. {If you don't know, roughly every spring the SS Administration will publish rankings of names from the previous year. You can search by state, you can look at as far out as top 1,000, you can go back over 100 years, it is so fun!} Brent thought that was a dumb requirement. I thought Drew Joseph a.k.a. D.J. was stupid. You can see where we stood.

Then...he was born!!! I just knew after the agony of labor and pushing for almost an hour and a half, Brent would give in, and Baby Boy would be Miller. Well, apparently stitches in your hoo-ha get you exactly...squat from my husband! So we were back to square one. 

At night on July 1 {more than 24 hours after Baby Boy was born}, we were still stumped, and Brent decided it was time to get serious. So HE started looking at the SS Administration page. One thing to note is the resemblance between Baby Boy and Brent. We got so many comments on how they favored each other. So Brent randomly threw out the name Trent {#312}. Hmmm... I started marinating on that name because it seemed like a way of naming him Jr. without actually having him be a Jr. When I was nursing Trent in the middle of the night that night, I looked at him and just KNEW he was Trent. It was perfect, just perfect.

Well. Enter the dream husband. The next morning, he decided he wasn't that fond of Trent anymore. Was it too cute to have them be Brent and Trent? NO!!! He looks like you, he's your son, let's go with it! Brent decided the 'fair' thing to do would be to flip coins. Trent {my fave} vs. Drew {his fave}. The winner of that would go against Carson {a name neither of us absolutely despised}.

As he pulled out a quarter to start flipping, I started crying. My baby just couldn't be Carson or Drew. HE WAS TRENT. When I told Brent why I was crying, he gave up and said 'Just fill out the birth certificate paperwork.' And I did! I might have promised Brent that we'd name our second baby Drew, but I was lying if we were to ever have another boy, so I hoped for a girl next!

Drew Kathleen {Here's her birth story: part 1 & part 2}

If you thought naming a daughter would be easier for my husband and me given how we ended up naming'd be wrong. 

It seemed in the 3 1/2 years between our children, we got pickier about our requirements. Still couldn't be in the top 100, still had to be careful to make it not too cutesy when paired with Gurley {nothing starting with a G or ending in an 'e' sound to rhyme}, and now we knew we liked 1 syllable names. We did figure out we liked boy names for girls. Yes, Drew was on the list {not even in the top 1,000}, and quite a high contender, but was it THE name? We weren't sure. Alex, Sam, Tate, Ellis {the one 2 syllable name I liked}...other names I really liked that Brent wasn't sold on.

So when labor began on January 2, we went to the hospital for the second time with an unnamed child.

January 3 rolled around, and we were taking a walk up and down the halls of the hospital pushing our little unnamed girl in her basket, and we looked at each other and said 'Well, should it be Drew?' And that was that! Brent got his way and Trent's leftover name did indeed become our second born's name. Thank God we had a girl!

It was definitely a challenge to name our babies, and I don't foresee it getting any easier for any future children {Yes, Brent, there'll be ONE MORE...maybe}, but at least we will know what we're getting into!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Weekend That WASN'T

So I intended to blog tonight about how great the move was. Sure we were tired and the house would be a mess, but we would be in it! Except... 

We didn't close on Friday. Womp, womp. There was a glitch, and we got bumped to Monday. Normally that wouldn't be a big deal, except we had to be out of our apartment on Saturday. So at 34, we are living with our parents. {grin} We are SO blessed to have 2 amazing sets of parents who graciously helped us move everything out of the apartment, clean, pick up our kids, fill their houses with crap, and feed/house us for a few days.

Now here's what happened over the weekend that wasn't about moving into our new house.

In Montessori you learn to write in cursive. Here's T practicing.
Love, love, love this boy.

Some friends who live in the neighborhood we're moving into graciously let us put a bunch of stuff in their garage, so Friday Brent scrambled around and found some movers to get all the big stuff into their garage. Then Saturday, it was a matter of getting everything else...somewhere.

We have split up a little - Friday night Brent slept in the apartment on an air mattress, and I had both kids at my parents'. 

Drew Baby eating her dinner where I ate many a breakfast growing up.

That girl may be cute, but she made a mess of all our sleep Friday night. She has mastered climbing out of the mini-crib at my parents, so we played musical beds for a few hours Friday night.

And again Saturday at naptime. Took me about 2 hours to get her asleep on Saturday.


Trent was such a trooper while I battled Drew at naptime - even trying to lay with her and help her sleep. But all it does it get her excited, ha. So when Brent and Papa brought a load of stuff to store at my parents, Trent happily went back to the apartment with them. I eventually made it back over there to turn in my keys {whoop!}, help clean, and take 2 loads back to my parents. The boys stayed at Brent's parents that night and the girls stayed with my parents.

We had a super loud thunderstorm about 10:00 PM that woke up D and scared her half to death.
Pops is showing her the rain to help calm her.

More musical beds followed Saturday night {that girl!} after the storm. 

Sunday brought church, shopping with my mother-in-law for all things bathroom, and a great dinner at their house. And baaaaack to my parents for the 3rd night of the worst slumber party in history. 

I might be bummed we aren't in our new house, but I am beyond loved.

So cross your fingers everything gets righted tomorrow morning and we close!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

DITL: April 15, 2015

I can't believe it's been 3 months since my last Day in the Life post, but sure enough it has been! I need to pick a weekend day next time, because I feel like my weekdays are all pretty similar.  It'll still be neat to look back at these in the years to come. {grin} If you want to participate or read other posts, head over to Julia's blog.

6:30 - Alarm goes off, and I only snoozed once. [Technically I was already awake because Brent had left by this point, but I was enjoying just laying in bed.] I'm still working towards my goal to slowly push the wake-up to 6:00 or earlier but this is not the week for stressing on that given I've been working/packing until super late. I am consistently getting up 15 minutes earlier than a few months ago, so I'm making progress! Considered taking a selfie but chose to spare you that view.

My other view instead...

6:40 - Begin getting ready. I washed my hair last night, so I needed to straighten it. The plan was to make Trent's lunch before waking the kids up, but...

7:00 - Drew is up and singing {loudly} in her bed. Go get her. She grabs 2 blankets and a tiny stuffed dog to come with us. She gets her 'milky' first thing in the morning. Haven't quite figured out how to take away the last nursing session of the day. Not going to stress about it until after we move.

2 Gurley gurls

7:20 - Go to wake up Trent. He pops up just as I go to take a picture of him sleeping. Stinker. Yes, he's sleeping without sheets. We washed them a few days ago, and I said 'to heck with it' and packed them, ha.

Blurry but has to be documented!

7:30 - Make pancakes for Trent, Drew picks granola. She won't sit at their table without me, so she sat on the counter while I made pancakes. {And by made, I mean microwave frozen pancakes.}

7:40-8:10 - Get dressed, get the kids dressed {wrangled} and in the car. I tried to get a cute picture of them sitting side-by-side, but neither child would cooperate.

Trent is being slow and living in his own world, and Drew wants to 'hold it' {meaning my phone}.

8:30 - Arrive at school. Listen to '70s music in the car {Cat Stevens and Peter, Paul, and Mary} with the windows rolled down.

My iPhone music montage

9:00-2:30 - Home and working! We are currently dealing with drama with mortgage lendor. 'We must close by April 17' meant 'April 24' to him, and they aren't ready. Um, get ready.

My day consisted of conference calls, scheduling requests, and spreadsheet building. It probably doesn't sound exciting, but I love this job SO much better than auditing. Brent says I talk all day, which is partially true, and that is RIGHT up my alley.

My workday view

I usually listen to replays of my favorite morning show.

2:30 - Leave to go get the rugrats.

2:45 - Get to school. Find out Trent had a really good day! {That makes 2 in a row, so excited!!} Tell the kids we have an errand to run, but if they are good we can get Starbucks. Trent decides we need ice cream, and Drew agrees!

3:15 - We arrive at a friend's house to get wardrobe boxes. She just moved last week into an AMAZING house. We got a tour, and the kids played with her kids and dogs. My one big regret at our house is I picked a paint color that I think is too light. Valerie has 1 shade darker of the same color family, and hers is what I thought I was getting. Womp, womp. I'll be saving my pennies to maybe someday fix...ha!

Beautiful house! {And yes, my mirror is zip-tied on. #dontask}

3:55 - Hop back in the car and head to get ice cream!

4:15 - Ice cream time! Trent wants cotton candy, and Drew wants whatever her bubba has, so 2 blue ice cream cones it is.

4:40 - The kids are starting to get wild in the store, so we load up and head home. Drew hasn't finished her cone yet, and while I know this doesn't bode well for the car ride home, I take a chance versus staying in the store while they act like feral cats.

5:00 - Get home. Brent plays golf on Wednesdays, and he left super early this morning, so this is the only window of time we'll see him. We talk about moving stuff, he plays with the kids for a bit and is gone. Drew gets a bath because she is blue. I tried to get B to take a picture with me to document that he was alive today but no dice.

Her pigtails are a little worse for the wear by the end of the day.

5:15-6:00 - The kids watch a little bit of Netflix/YouTube, play, and eat pick at dinner.

A renewed love of Rescue Bots

Moving boxes make for great building sites

6:30 - Drew comes in from the porch coloring herself with a marker. She goes back in the bathtub.

More requests to 'hold it'.

7:00-7:30 - Time to start bedtime with Drew. We read, sing, get interrupted by Trent 3 times, have a slight meltdown over actually getting in the crib, but I call her bluff {'Do you want to lay down and have mommy sing or do you want mommy to leave?' 'Leave.' 'Okay, goodnight.' Boom - that's the sound of Drew laying down ready for me to sing.}

Trying to read to this silly girl

Nope, she took the phone! She finally gets to 'hold it'!

7:30 - Trent's bedtime! I left my phone in Drew's room {which I so knew I was going to do}, so no pictures of us. But we finished reading the Magic Treehouse's first Super edition which was about a mission in World War 2. The end of the book talks about Anne Frank, and I tear-up. Trent laughs at me.

8:00-10:00 - Time for more work! I think I've blogged about this before, but since I leave early a few days a week to get the kids, I work at night to get all my hours in.  I love the flexibility I have to be able to spend more time with the kids during the day. Other than being a doula, I don't think I could ask for more, ha! Eat a bacon sandwich during this time. {We're trying to clean out the fridge and 95% of the kitchen is packed away so it's slim pickings right now.}

9:30 - Sneak into Drew's room to get my phone and take sleeping baby pics. Per usual, Drew is on her stomach or side, and Trent is on his back.

I wash her pillow once a week but girlfriend DROOLS so bad. So please don't judge me for her discolored pillow!

He isn't supposed to have squirty fruits in his room. We're prepping him for the new 'no food on carpet' rule in the new house. #busted

10:15 - Stop working. Somehow manage to waste 45 minutes playing on the internet.

11:00 - Get ready for bed. I read for about 20 minutes before putting the phone away. Reading a really interesting book right now that is making me think a lot. Can't wait to share more about it soon.

And that was our Wednesday, April 15, 2015!