Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 - The Rundown

2011 was a new year for us.  We made a few big changes, which were scary, but we knew they were the right ones for us.  Brent quit his job at the state after 7 years to venture out into a commission only job.  At the same time, I went from a full-time auditor to a 90% of full-time auditor.  Both meant a reduction in income.  But they meant more time as a family!  It's been a stressful year but a really good year too!  I can't wait to see what 2012 has in store.  As dorky  as it sounds, I am so excited for a new year!  But before we get to 2012, I wanted to look back on 2011.

I tried Project 52 and pretty much failed.  But I had fun doing it and plan to do it or something like it again.  Katie posted monthly goals.  That might be better.  We'll see...  I'm marinating.

I got a new car, but not because I wanted to.  So thankful for health in 2011!

I also got a niece!  Man oh man, do I love my Baby Girl!

My little guy turned TWO.  We had a rockin' birthday party!

I learned I love cake decorating.

My uncle passed away.  Mortality is a bitch.

I got really into natural medicine.  Brent hates me.

I joined twitter!

I celebrated 7 years of marriage to my wonderful husband.

Trent moved up to a big boy bed and got potty trained!

Where I feel like I didn't do so good was my overall goal of organization.  I had good weeks and bad weeks, but I know this will be my struggle for life, so I'm proud that I kept trying all year.  We also stopped having a cleaning lady come this summer, and that has not helped, but I'm working on that too.  

I am also pretty disappointed in my lack of willpower in losing the last of the baby weight.  But, totally cliche I know, I joined a gym this week.  2012 is going to be the year I am not grossed out anymore!

Looking back on the year, I think I did more than I realized.  It was a good year, my heart is full. {grin}

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas came and went.

Pretty much like I said it would.

We spent time with family and open lots of presents.

Blessed beyond words.

Most of the pictures are on other peoples' cameras.  Ugh.

So thankful I got a new camera!  Get ready y'all.

Best present ever?  He thinks so!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Life is Good...

I packed these bad boys away.
Our big boy is potty trained!!  For about a month now!
{He still sleeps in diapers but during the day?  Full on undies!}
I am one happy cloth diaper lovin' mama.
Cloth diapers may be awesome, but they are a lot of work!

So until next time friends! {grin}

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Currently: The Procrastinator Edition

Christmas was a ton of fun, but I'm enjoying not being on my computer much before I have to really get back to work, so I haven't uploaded my pics.  Sue me.  I plan to get them all up tomorrow.  BUT since I hate having a neglected blog, I thought I'd do an edition of Currently.  You're welcome.

Current Album
The Best of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons - I kid you not, Trent asks for it almost every time we get in the car.

Current Book 
I just finished reading 'Before I Go to Sleep' by S.J. Watson.  It's our next book club book.  I can't wait to have our next meeting and blog about it!  Hint - you should read it.

Current Songs
'We Are Young' from Glee.  I should probably be ashamed...ha.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure
See next answer.

Current Drink
Coke.  The REAL deal.

Current Outfit
Gray skinny Old Navy jeans, my Queen t-shirt (also from Old Navy, thanks sis) and a Target hoodie.  It sounds bad, but trust me, I look cute (except probably the hoodie, but it's cold outside).

Current Celebrity Crush
Zooey Deschanel - I love New Girl.

Current Mood
Content.  And tired.  Christmas was good.

Current Anticipation
I'm really excited for 2012.  Brent and I have a lot of plans and hopes.  Not sure what's going to happen, but I'm really looking forward to the adventures we'll have.

Current Film
'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' - Anyone want to go with me?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Traditions - Currently

Our family is busy over Christmas, but as all our family lives within 20 minutes of each other, it is not stressful at all.  Yay!  We've been together now for almost 15 years, and our routine has been pretty set for a long time.  Unfortunately, it changed once our grandparents began passing away, but I love our routine now.

Christmas Eve - We spend Christmas Eve with Brent's mom's side of the family at his Nanny's house.  His mom is 1 of 5 kids, so there are A LOT of people celebrating together.  Super fun night!


Christmas morning - We wake up at our own home Christmas morning and open our presents to each other.


We then drive the tedious 3 miles to my parents' house to celebrate with my parents and sis.  We have gone out to eat for at least the last 15 years, but this year with 3 young kids, we are opting to eat in.  Can you blame us?


 Christmas Evening - After a nap by our young master, we head to the in-laws.  Another tedious 15 minute drive ensues.  (Jealous yet?)  We eat breakfast for dinner and open gifts!


2nd Christmas - We get together the weekend after Christmas with my mom's side of the family.  Another huge get-together with lots of cousins, food, drinking, carol singing...good times!


So there you have it!  A Gurley Christmas.  What do you do for Christmas?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Survey

I thought it'd be fun to have a Christmas survey!  I found a 50 question one online but decided to narrow it down.  You're welcome.

1.  Does your family send out Christmas cards? Yep!  You'll see it soon...

2.  Favorite Christmas movie?  White Christmas - I am so irritated because we forgot to get it from Netflix this year.  Kind of too late now!

3.  Favorite Christmas song? The Christmas Song

4.  White or colored lights? White on the tree, colored on the house

5.  When it comes to decorations, are you more of a Griswald or a Grinch? Griswald, baby!

6.  Eggnog - Yay or Nay? Nay!

7.  Do you say 'Merry Christmas' or 'Happy Holidays'? Merry Christmas mostly.

8.  Do you travel for the holidays? If going 10 miles down the road counts, then yes.  Ha!  We are so lucky!

9.  Hot chocolate or apple cider? Both.  Yum!

10. What is on your Christmas wish list? Too much stuff!  A Kindle, a steam mop, a juicer and a Canon Rebel!!!

Anyone want to play along?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Decorations!!!

I love, love, love to decorate for Christmas!  I decorate for most holidays, but it's usually a few pieces.  Not so at Christmas.  My mom goes nuts and has decorations in every room.  I'm not there yet, but give me time...I just have to grow my collection!  So sit back as we stroll through my house.

Lights!  Nothing spectacular, but I love having outside lights.
Now, for full disclosure, this is from 2 years ago, but the lights look pretty much the same.  If you know us, you know we don't have either of those vehicles or bushes anymore, so I couldn't pretend it was from this year. {grin}

The mantle and our stockings (which I LOVE).  The mantle needs some work, it's kind of plain.

If you were looking for some trucks, you've come to the right house. This is where they 'park' for the night.

The kitchen (my new monogrammed towels are from my MIL)
The fridge and counter are where I display our cards. 

Entry way
If you look closely at the nativity scene, there's an extra Mary.  Trent put her there.  He knew where the she was and said she belonged with Jesus.  Love that kid!  He knows she's Jesus' mommy!!!!

Kitchen table

Guest room
Can you see the little piano in the bottom right picture?  Trent is obsessed with it and 'plays' it.  He carries it around the house and even pretends to sit on the stool.  Brent says it'll get broken, but it'll be worth it for how cute Trent is with it. 

End table in living room
My mom and Granny made all those ornaments!

All my door knob hangers (Brent hates these - ha)

Some of my favorite ornaments

My favorite - the tree!!!

There you have it - my decorations.  They just make me happy.  Merry Christmas, friends!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

That Time My Dad Ruined Christmas

I have a pretty awesome dad.  He grew up in a house with 3 females and is still around - I'd say he rocks!  But that's not to say he's perfect.  {grin}

Growing up, I was very naive and innocent.  Heck, most people would still say that's true!  I believed in things way longer than I probably should have.  Like Santa Claus.  I remember being maybe 7 or 8 years old, leaving a letter, milk and cookies out for Santa and waking up to a note back from St. Nick himself!!!  I was on cloud 9!  (Now most people would have probably noticed how Santa's handwriting was exactly like my uncle's distinct all-caps style of writing but not me!)  So you can see I was a little trusting.

Fast forward a few years.  I'm 10.  I still believe in Santa Claus.  A little ridiculous?  Probably.  I'm standing in H-E-B with said 'awesome' dad.  I'm talking about Santa.  My dad turns and looks at me and says 'Allena, Santa is not real.'

Holy sh*t balls.

What?  You're kidding right?

Nope.  Santa is, in fact, not real.

I was devastated.  I think I broke down in tears and cried the whole way home and ran straight to my mother.  She was not pleased.  

Fast forward 20+ years.  I doubt my dad remembers this, but I will never forget it.  I'll have to ask my mom if she remembers...

When did you find out Santa Claus wasn't real?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Recipe: Christmas Wreaths

Five days until Christmas!!  Time for my favorite Christmas recipe.

My Granny used to make Christmas Wreaths every year.  After she passed away, my mom has continued the tradition.  Not only are they delicious, but they turn your tongue green too which is super cool as a kid!

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1 teaspoon green food coloring
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups cornflakes cereal
  • 1 (2.25 ounce) package cinnamon red hot candies
  1. Microwave marshmallows and butter on High for 2 minutes. Stir, then microwave on High for 2 minutes more. Stir.
  2. Add and mix quickly the coloring, extracts, then cornflakes. Drop by spoonfuls in clumps on greased wax paper and decorate with 3 red hots each.
  3. Once cool, transfer to lightly greased serving/storage tray with lightly greased fingers.  

The result!  Yum!
{image via google}

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Traditions - My Faves From Childhood

Hello 6 days until Christmas!  My first 'Week of Christmas' post is all about childhood traditions for Christmas.  Growing up, we did the same thing every year for Christmas.  My parents were high school sweethearts and their parents lived approximately 1.2 miles apart.  So as kids, we always spent Christmas Eve with my mom's parents, siblings and all our cousins.  Christmas Day was spent with my dad's mom.  Every year.  Loved it!

2 Swope girls excited for Christmas!

What I loved SO much at my Granny's house was we took turns opening presents.  My dad's side of the family is very small.  He has 1 brother who had 1 daughter.  Growing up, for the most part, there were 7 people on Christmas Day.  So we went in a circle, each opening 1 present at a time.  For a kid, it made present-opening take about 2 hours.  A.W.E.S.O.M.E.  We now continue that tradition at my parents' house.  (Brent hates it - ha)

Me with my Granny getting my favorite doll (Victoria) - Christmas '84-ish

At my Mamaw and Pops' house, insanity was the name of the evening.  My mom is 1 of 7 kids, so there would be about 30 people every year.  We would always sing carols as a family (including the 12 Days of Christmas where we split the 12 days between everybody) and we always made champagne punch.  It really doesn't taste that good, but we made it year after year.

4 Lindemann cousins making champagne punch (Drinking age?  What's that?)

Now our traditions have changed (yes, I am dedicating a post to our 'new' traditions), but I will always remember my Christmases growing up!

My sweetheart - Christmas '98

And even though these are my Christmas traditions, I couldn't miss a chance to post this adorableness.  Brent - Christmas '82-ish.

What is your favorite Christmas tradition(s)?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Twas the Week Before Christmas

I love Christmas.  Like 100% totally L.O.V.E. Christmas.  The fact that we're a week away?  Has me giddy!  Yippee!!!  With that said, I thought I'd share that joy with the blog world this week.  So this week on my blog, it will be all things Christmas.  Hopefully that doesn't turn anyone off, but it's my blog, and I'll do blog what I want to.  {Allison, I'm paranoid...did I use the strikethrough properly there?}  I'll be sharing my favorite traditions, recipes, the story of when I found out 'the truth' about Santa, our 2011 decorations and anything else red and green I can think of!  So get ready, Christmas is only SEVEN days away!

Friday, December 16, 2011

God Bless the U.S.A. (Goodbye Kit and Heather)

Barely a month after getting married, our friends, Kit and Heather, packed up to move to New Zealand for Kit's job.  To say goodbye and good luck, we celebrated with a themed party.  What was the theme you ask?  America, of course!

Captain America and Lady Liberty ready to say farewell!

How our friends interpret 'America'...L to R
Ummmm...a Native American...a Mexican American (proving his citizenship to Border Patrol - ha)

What's more American than...

All-American Barbie {grin}

We'll miss our friends dearly for the next 2 years but will enjoy following their adventures HERE.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Lame Trip to Las Vegas

This is my last post about Vegas, I promise!  Because I was there for a work training, I didn't have much free time, but we were able to get out and see a play and walk around and people/casino watch.  I only took a few pics, but I did want to share what I saw.

We stayed at The Venetian, and all the rooms there are suites.  Way cool!

View from my room - I love the mountains in the background!

My room - cool, huh?

A living room too!

The Bellagio fountain show was really neat.

Yummy frozen hot chocolate!

I took a short video (30 seconds) of the fountain show.

So hopefully I can go back to Vegas someday and actually see and do more!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Review: The Lion King

I mentioned briefly that I saw 'The Lion King' while in Vegas.  I really can't express in words how amazing this play was!  It definitely goes at the top of my list (although I still say 'Wicked' is #1 in my heart).  I was just blown away by the costumes, the singing and the dancing.  The story is, of course, almost identical to the Disney movie.  There are a few extra songs, but other than that the story is the same.  There were a few additional dances by the animals and one tribal song - all of which were awesome.  At the beginning I had goosebumps, and I was crying by the end.  If you ever have the chance to see it, GO!!!

Some awesome pics via google.
Can you believe those giraffes are people?  Crazy, huh?

Semi Copout Post

I actually have a lot of my head.  And I just don't have time to post them.  In my 'spare' time, I'm working, Christmas shopping, creating our Christmas card, not cleaning my disaster of a house...  Blogging has just taken a backseat.  But I promise I'll find a little bit of time and put together a bunch of posts.  I'm actually really excited about several topics I have in mind!  But what I was thinking about tonight as I worked on our Christmas card was just how much my little guy has changed this year.  It's amazing how few pictures I have of the 3 of us together.  I intend to remedy that in 2012!  But when I was searching for pictures, I just kept staring at pictures of T.  He was SUCH a baby a year ago!  The first year of his life the changes were so drastic month-to-month.  So I guess I haven't really noticed it as much in 2011.  But wow!  Looking back, he just looks so different to me.  So while I don't write any real posts tonight (hence the title of the post), I will still share 2 pics to show what I mean.

January 2011 - so little!

November 2011

See what I mean?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Vegas in Bullets

  • 'The Lion King' was AH-MAZING!  Can't wait to do a recap.
  • I lost $40 in 20 minutes.  That was enough gambling.
  • Our training has actually been pretty interesting.  Competition results will be in Thursday morning.
  • The Venetian Hotel is way nice and way big.  All the rooms are suites.
  • I miss my boys.
  • I loved the Bellagio fountains!
  • Conference food is the same...even in Vegas.
  • Serendipity Frozen Hot Chocolate?  The bomb!  (Thanks Allison!)
  • People-watching rocks here.
  • I didn't take many pictures (after all I wasn't here for vacation), but I'll post what I have when I get home.
  • I still dislike cigarette smoke.  I especially hate how I smell after walking through the casino.
  • I want to come back someday for a real vacation!
  • I'm ready to go home.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Book Club Review: Bag of Bones

We had our third book club meeting last week (our last with Kit and Heather, sob), and Rhonda's selection was Stephen King's Bag of Bones.

Summary: A widowed novelist with writer's block returns to his family's summer home where he becomes involved in a custody dispute, discovers that his house is haunted, and mysteriously regains his ability to write. (via my hometown library webpage)

Review: This was the 2nd time I read this book (first time being in college), and I enjoyed it both times.  I didn't realize how much of the story I didn't remember from the first time, so it really wasn't like re-reading a book.  If you like Stephen King, you'll like this book.  I counted and have read 16 Stephen King books and 3 short stories/novellas.  So I might be a little biased. {grin} In typical fashion, this book will give you the creeps.  I don't like when people classify Stephen King as a 'horror' writer, because I don't find his books scary in that way.  They are more subtle - I find myself looking around the empty room and wishing I wasn't reading the book night...  Ha!  Bottom line - very enjoyable!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Guest Post from The Blogivers

Hey readers!!  Today is my first day in Vegas, and I have a treat for y'all!  My very first guest blogger!  I have 'known' Allison for maybe a year or so now (I started reading her blog after stumbling across it on another's friends blog roll), and I must say it's one of my favorites.  Allison is so funny and sarcastic, yet a great mom, sister and friend that you can't help but love her! Random true story - Allison went to a shower a few months ago and didn't know the hostess.  On the refrigerator was...a picture of Trent!  Ha!  Such a small world.

* * * * *

Greetings, Gurley Gurl readers!  Allison from TheBlogivers here.  I'm so excited to be guest posting for Allena today and helping her cross one of her Project 52 goals off the list!  Allena and I have never met in real life, but we have enough in common (we both went to Texas A&M, we are both mommies to cute little boys, we both have names starting with A, and we are both awesome... obviously) that I'm pretty sure we'd be good pals if we did meet.  And now that we have the intro out of the way, let's move on.

Since Allena is kickin' it in Vegas this week, today I'm going to talk about the ups and downs of traveling during this time of year.  In general, I am a big fan of travel.  This is ironic because for the most part, I am a homebody who doesn't deal well with change and has a lack of appreciation for germ-infested, crowded places (read: airports and hotels).  But because I am also a big believer that the monotony of everyday life will send you to an early grave if you don't take breaks from reality every now and then, I love to get out of town.  So when my husband surprised me with tickets to New York City a couple of years ago, I was ecstatic!  

The trip was scheduled for mid-December and although it has always been a dream of mine to go to NYC at Christmas time, I was also a little wary of a) the inevitable crowds that would await us at that time of year and b) possible bad weather.  Thankfully for the most part, the trip went swimmingly.  We got to do all the fun things I had envisioned us doing... checking out the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, enjoying frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity, watching the Rockettes perform in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, taking in the view at Top of the Rock, going on a carriage ride through Central Park, and even scoring FREE front row tickets to the Late Show with David Letterman!

Now, I could end the post here and pretend the trip was perfect, but being the pessimist that I can so often be, I owe it to you all to tell you about the down sides.  First of all, it rained for the entirety of our first day.  It seriously started raining around 10am and didn't stop once for the rest of the day.  We were at first determined not to let that hold us back, but after a failed trip to Battery Park to see the Statue of Liberty (you could barely make her out in the haze), let's just say my attitude (and hair) started to suffer.

After a long subway trip back to the hotel to dry off and a little pep talk from my husband, I was able to put on my big girl panties and get over it.  And with that small exception, our time spent in New York City really was perfect.  And then it was time to go home...

We were scheduled to get back in town mid-afternoon the day of our return, and I thought it was genius planning on our part.  That way we would have plenty of time to pick up our dog, unpack, and get settled back at home to ease ourselves back into reality.  Well, Delta Airlines had other plans!  For reasons unknown to me, our first flight was delayed ever so slightly, but just long enough to cause us to miss our connecting flight.  And before I knew it, I was literally throwing a hissy fit in the airport, kicking the wall and muttering threats under my breath toward the unhelpful ticket agents who had just told us we were going to have to spend the next 7 hours in the airport waiting for a different flight while my husband tried desperately to shut me up for fear that we would both get arrested.  And in case you think I am exaggerating the level of rage I was feeling that afternoon, here is proof:

See those flared nostrils?!  Those are a sign of true anger.  Obviously I made it through the Great Airport Delay of 2009 and lived to tell all of you about it today, but it was a close call.  And even though it was a truly horrible end to our trip, I would have done it all over again.  So if you are traveling during the holidays this year, I wish you travels that are full of fun memories and free of pain-in-the-butt moments like that.  Happy trails and happy holidays to you all!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Vegas Baby!

I'm going to Vegas, baby!  It's for a work training...but still...I'm going to Vegas!  This will be my first time to go to Vegas, and I'm pretty excited.  It'll be the longest I've ever been away from Trent, but I'll be with several other mommies who will also be missing their babies, so I know I'll have support.  A group of us already have tickets to see 'The Lion King'.  Anybody have a fun Vegas memory or recommendation?
Viva, Las Vegas!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Project 52 Failure

I haven't posted about Project 52 in a while because I have majorly failed at it.  Here are the items that aren't done right now and if there's any chance I can get to them before the end of the year.

4. Save money to buy a Canon Rebel. - I will be able to buy this in January!  Yay!
5. Take a photography class. - Can't do this until I have the camera, but I should be able to do in early 2012.
6. Get back to pre-baby body (or as close to it as possible). - Utter failure.
8. Run at least 1 5K. - Utter failure.  Going to look around for what's happening in December.
11. Purge our house of excess clutter. - Not perfect at all, but I did quite a bit this fall.
12. Start Trent’s college fund. - Nope.  Not yet, but I think I can do this in December.
13. Organize photos. - Nope!
14. Finally learn to sew (lessons from mother-in-law). - Nope!
17. Volunteer. - Nope!
18. Continue learning guitar (or more like re-start). - Nope!
20. Make more dinners for our family. - Nope!
21. Create a budget. - Nope!
22. Make a will. - Nope!
23. Visit the World of Harry Potter. - Nope!
24. Go on more dates with Brent. - Not great, but I'd say we have done more together.
26. Use my crock pot at least once a month. - Nope!
27. Less bad eating! - Nope!
28. Have a guest blogger (and someone who is not an IRL friend). - Going to ask a few people.
29. Get moving again. - Nope!
30. Eat like a vegetarian for a week (or at least a weekend). - Nope!
31. Cut back on Starbucks. - Nope!
42. Do something fun for our anniversary (October 16). - We had a great time at Sea World!  HA!
47. Hang Christmas lights myself and get something for the yard (but NOT a blow-up decoration). - Brent (AKA Scrooge) says we can't afford new lights and anything in the yard.  Bah Humbug.  I'm still working on it!
50. Attend the Texas Book Festival with Allison. - Allison bailed on me, so she's paying this $5. :)
51. Go to at least 1 Aggie sporting event. - Nope!

Point of this story - some charity is going to make a lot of money off me, and I'm a total slacker.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Who's Your Babysitter?

My sister's birthday was Friday, and being the most fabulous sister that I am, I babysit Miles for her.  Like he spent the night.  With me.  And Brent was gone.  So I had both boys BY MYSELF.  And we had a fantastic time!!!

We played outside.

We looked super adorable watching 'Bob the Builder', holding hands, and brushing our hair.  Like seriously.  Cutest.

We rode the tricycle.  Naked or just in our undies.

We played in the baby swing.  Naked or in our undies.

I was for sure exhausted when Miles went home, but my sister had a fabulous time, and I was so happy to have had Miles stay.  I'd been scared to do it, but the boys were great!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy 60th Daddy!

Today, my dad turns 60!!

He is a wonderful father to my sister and me.

And a great father-in-law to his 2 knucklehead son-in-laws.

Oh, and he's been an awesome husband to my mom for 36 years. 

And a great Pops to his grandbabies. 

He's a die-hard Aggie who often has a broken heart.

He loves to play golf and watch football, shows about economics, PTI, and the weather channel.

And he's handsome to boot, no?

Happy birthday, Daddy!

I hope you have a fabulous day and many, many more!!