Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Double Movie Review: Darkest Hour and I, Tonya

It's the time of year where Allison and I are at a movie almost weekly as we race to get the Oscar nominees watched! A lot of times it seems almost impossible to get any Best Actress nominees watched because they aren't typically in the Best Picture category - well, with 1 film we added to our female categories!!

First up, we saw Darkest Hour a few weeks ago. It was on some lists as a Best Picture nominee and not on others, so we gambled, and I'm glad it paid off as an official nominee.

Plot: During the early days of World War II, the fate of Western Europe hangs on the newly-appointed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who must decide whether to negotiate with Hitler, or fight on against incredible odds.

Review: So many thoughts about this movie! First, Gary Oldman did a fantastic job as Winston Churchill - he was unrecognizable as himself and had I not known it was him, I would have NEVER guessed it was him. The film itself was really fascinating, but I think if you weren't familiar with WW2, it would be really confusing. In the last 5 years or so, I've become pretty obsessed with WW2, and I've read a lot of 'women on the home front' books which has lots of small plots that cover battles/historical parts of the war, so I definitely have a better understanding than I did a few years ago. They talk about battles as if everyone knows about them and certain historical people that way too. I did not know that the UK almost negotiated with Hitler and that to me was so fascinating - all the pressure Churchill got to work with Hitler - can you imagine how the world would be today if he'd caved? And all of this was 18 months before America joined the fight - amazing how dire it was for them and they hung on for 5 more years! Overall a fascinating movie, but I don't think it'll win Best Picture... Rating: B+

Next up, I, Tonya. This is not nominated for Best Picture, but Allison has wanted to see it for months, so we finally made that happen! Both Margot Robbie and Allison Janney are nominated (for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress), so once we get through all the Best Picture nominees, we'll have the 2 female categories covered too which is super exciting. #nerdalert

Plot: Competitive ice skater Tonya Harding rises amongst the ranks at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but her future in the activity is thrown into doubt when her ex-husband intervenes.

Review: Oh man, this was so fun in a dark, dark way. It's sad when you think this is Tonya's real life (or real-ish given this is a movie) - especially when you see her mother physically and verbally abusing her - but at the same time it's so ridiculous you can't help but laugh. The performances were great, even though I knew the story it played out fresh - this is a great movie! Rating: A

Monday, January 29, 2018

Photo-a-Day Week 4

Day 22: Fort Building

Day 23: My Firstborn

Day 24: Wagon Rides

Day 25: Watching Videos 

Day 26: Party Prep

Day 27: Her Happy Place

Day 28: Still Not 100%

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Currently: Recovery Mode

Current Book

Current Song

It Goes On by Zac Brown Band - such a talented group!

Current TV Show

Bandwagon jumper

Current Drink

Hot tea with honey for my yucky cough

Current Shame-Inducing Pleasure

We bought Nutty Bars at the grocery store, eek!

Current Outfit

Current Celebrity Crush

I think 12 Strong would be too intense for me, but this guy could tempt me to watch it!

Current Mood

If I'm being totally honest, I've been really blue the last few days. Being sick and having sick kids really stinks. I think being homebound also took my mind back to being home with Paige last winter so much and reminded me a little too much of my post-partum time period. So happy we are all on the mend, so these blues don't get worse!

Current Anticipation

We are having Drew's birthday party this weekend!!!

Current Wishlist

For Paige to get her act together and sleep at night.

Current Film

Allison and I are hitting this one Sunday, 
and then it's going to be 4 Oscar Best Picture nominees in a very quick hit!

Current Picture

Scooter accident, sad little boy {Although he's faking the sad face}

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Flu-Mageddon 2018

Whew. The past 10 days have been a mess! 

Last Friday, I took the kids to visit my in-laws after school and then had book club. I came home earlier than normal because I was so tired and had a headache. #foreshadowing 

Saturday morning, I nursed Paige and when I got back in bed I was so cold and couldn't get warm no matter what. I had the chills for hours. When I got up, I took my temperature and it was almost 103. I slept most of the day and my parents took the big kids.

Sunday, my fever came and went but I felt much better. Monday I still had fever and Brent did too. It was his day to sleep all day, but by Tuesday we were all fever free. Paige had a little bit of fever in the middle of the night but nothing significant. I thought it must have been just a short-lived cold.

Tuesday the kids were all home due to ice, and we kept everyone home Wednesday just to be safe before sending everything back.

Thursday, everyone went back to school! But then I got a call at 1:00 to get Drew - she was complaining of a bad headache. I went ahead and grabbed Paige too while I was at school and in the time I put Paige down for a nap, Drew started running fever and was crying and crying over her headache. My father-in-law came over to sit while Paige slept, and I took Drew to urgent care.

Drew tested positive for flu, and the PA who saw us said it was likely Brent and I already had the flu if we had fever, fatigue, etc. earlier in the week. Drew's fever got up to 105 that night, but her spirits were pretty good. Friday I kept everyone home again because I didn't know if Trent and Paige were carriers now.

I started running fever again Thursday evening and went to urgent care Friday and got diagnosed with bronchitis.

Saturday, Paige just didn't seem right and Trent had been fighting a cough for a long time, so I took both of them to the pediatrician. Paige tested positive for the flu and had an ear infection. Luckily, Trent's flu test was negative and the cough was determined to be allergies.

Sunday, everyone was fever free! I kept the girls home Monday and they both took long naps and were in great spirits.

Hopefully, this is the end of the Big Flu 2018 for our family!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Photo-a-Day Week 3

Day 15: Rule Breakers

Day 16: A Clean Sink!

Day 17: Nap Protestor

Day 18: Flu Victim #3 Day 1

Day 19: More Flu-ing

Day 20: Doctor's Visit #4

Day 21: Returning to the Land of the Living

Thursday, January 18, 2018

2018 Family Motto

I know I already talked about my goals for 2018, but the last few days I've been toying with an idea. One of my 'life goals' was to clean more. I want our house to look good at almost all times. 

Here's my motto for 2018:

I feel like I am constantly struggling between 2 things:

If I'm cleaning = I'm not spending time with my kids
If I'm playing with the kids = The house gets too messy

I've been debating how to feel like I'm spending time with my kids and not letting the house get away from me. So I am re-vamping how our day is going to go and the responsibilities the kids have.

It doesn't need to be only my responsibility, and I can't let it wait until it's overwhelming!

1-Before the kids get screen time after school, their rooms and playroom must be picked up.
2-Before dinner, they will help me make sure the living room is picked up.
3-After dinner, everyone will help get the kitchen clean. NO DIRTY DISHES BEFORE BED!

These 3 things will help keep the kids' rooms, playroom, kitchen, and living room picked up every day. Then it's up to me to manage my own mess in my room and the laundry room, but if everything else is clean, I think I can do this!

So wish me luck! And let me know if you have any bits of wisdom. I could certainly use the help. {grin}

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Photo-a-Day Week 2

Day 8: Grumpy Girl

Day 9: Movie Date

Day 10: PM

Day 11: AM

Day 12: Old Friends at Nana's New House

Day 13: Eating Tissue

Day 14: Sick

Friday, January 12, 2018

Adventure Awaits

Trent started a new school this week! It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks since we made this decision, and I've been a nervous wreck, but we're also very excited.

Up until this week, we were so fortunate to have all 3 kids at the same school. We moved to CMS in April 2014 and have been so happy there. When we first started they took kids 15 months - 6th grade and I remember thinking 'Oh man, if I can ever convince Brent for another baby, where will that baby go?' The next fall, they opened their baby room, and the stars aligned, HA! It only took me 18 more months to convince Brent. {grin}

However, we knew this wasn't a long-term solution given tuition for 3 kids ain't cheap. A charter Montessori school has been in the works for our county for a couple of years, and I've had my eyes peeled for a long time. It opened this fall! Brent and I debated discussed for a long time when to move them and decided to let Trent finish his lower elementary cycle {1st - 3rd grades are in the same class}, and then we'd move Trent and Drew next year when Trent was beginning upper elementary and Drew was in Kindergarten. Paige would obviously stay at CMS for a few more years.

I was looking online right before Winter Break started for the kiddos at the application timing for the charter school, and their website noted openings in elementary but long waiting lists for Pre-K and Kinder. I started to get really worried that if we waited, we wouldn't get Trent and Drew in there next year, so we started talking about moving Trent now to guarantee Drew entry next year.


Were we really going to consider moving Trent mid-way through a school year when he was finally having an amazing year? 

I met with the Director of the school on a Tuesday, brought Trent up there the next day, and we got him enrolled that afternoon. Told you it was a whirlwind!

Trent got to meet his teacher just before the semester started and thought she seemed nice and loved her classroom. It's also a bonus that several kids from CMS are in his class, and his girlfriend {so stinking cute} is in the class across the hall.

He started Tuesday and has had a great week! Tuesday I cried several times just so nervous for him, and when I picked him up he said the day was 'amazing' and he talked the whole way home about making friends and what he did. His teacher has also told me the same thing each day - that he is doing great.

I know this is the honeymoon phase, but I'm so happy he's had a smooth {so far} transition. It's added a little to our day with 2 drop-offs and pick-ups, but the new school is on the way to CMS, so it isn't too much longer. Drew doesn't seem to mind that her bubba isn't there anymore, and she likes the stories he tells her about where she'll be when she's in Kinder next year. [Hold me, how is that possible?]

So that's the latest update for the Gurley clan - if things go the way we have planned, Trent will be here for 5 years, Drew 9 years, and Paige 11 years! I'll be an old lady by the time we finish there, ha!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Double Movie Review: Three Billboards & PP3

Allison and I saw 2 movies in December, so we're definitely getting back into our movie groove - yay! We figure there are 6 in theatres we need to see before the Oscars, so January and February should be pleasantly busy!

First up, we saw Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. This is expected to be nominated for Best Picture.

Plot: A mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter's murder when they fail to catch the culprit.

Review: I'm not really sure what to say about this movie. I was entertained by it 100%, but it was also over-the-top in so many ways. Many of the characters were extremely bizarre and did outrageously unbelievable things. I felt like I had to suspend belief several times. But I was also totally invested in what was going on. A lot of the acting was SUPERB {I think Woody Harrelson was my favorite}, but it was hard to overlook my issues with the plot. Rating: B

Second, we watched Pitch Perfect 3. We have seen all 3 of the Pitch Perfect trilogy together going back to right before Drew was born!

Plot: Following their win at the world championship, the now separated Bellas reunite for one last singing competition at an overseas USO tour, but face a group who uses both instruments and voices.

Review: If you enjoyed the first 2, you'll enjoy this. It's funny because I said the reason I didn't like Three Billboards was because it was over-the-top, but I guess that could also be used to describe this trilogy. BUT in a comedy, that's a good thing! Fat Amy continues to kill me, the singing is so fun, the girls are ridiculous - just some great fun! Rating: A-

Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Monday, January 8, 2018

2018 Goals

I don't plan to do monthly goals this year because they all seem to revolve around similar themes: eat better, workout more, clean more, get organized... Let's just call those Allena's Life Goals and move on, okay?

Overall, for 2017 I wanted to adjust to being a family of 5 and not get post-partum. 50-50 for the year, ha! We are rocking being a family of 5 as we move into year 2 of our new normal. The first year is always rough, but we got into a groove and things are good.

For 2018, I did want to set a few smaller, fun goals that are measureable but challenging. {In addition to Allena's Life Goals, of course!}

1. Get Outside - This is my one cheat that should probably be a Life Goal, but I find it important enough for the year to focus on it here. I am not an outdoors person. I used to try and say I was, but if I'm being real, I'm not. BUT I know how important nature is for everyone and especially kids. I want us to leave the house in the morning on 'adventures' and not come home until Paige needs to nap. I want to explore, try new parks, just get out of the house! In the summer, we spend a lot of time in our neighborhood pool - sometimes 5 days a week - but I'd love to see us spending more time outside the rest of the year.

2. Finish Trent and Drew's Baby Books - My first 2 babies aren't babies anymore. SOB. Most baby books only cover the first 5 years, so I want to get theirs done. Trent's is in pretty good shape minus pictures, but Drew's could use some work. Luckily everything is on the blog, so it's just transferring it over and printing out some pictures. I lost the hair from both of their first haircuts, and I might have thrown Trent's baby teeth away, but I can at least add details and pictures!!

3. Win the Book Challenge - Sorry Allison, you're going down! I posted in November about the POPSUGAR book challenge - it's a year-long challenge with 40 prompts and 10 bonus prompts. Knowing Allison and me, it's going to take the bonus prompts to pick a winner - and the winner has to pay for movie tickets and snacks at our first 2019 movie! In 2017, I read 58 books, and it was 75 in 2016, so I'm not worried about the number of books, but some of the prompts are challenging, so I have to make sure I stay on-top of it. Right now, I've got ideas for 17 of the prompts and have 3 checked out/in progress - not too shabby!

4. Photo-a-Day - I feel like I didn't take enough pictures/videos this year. I would go days without any pics which isn't like me! Brent is rolling his eyes right now reading this. I want to make sure and take a picture every day, and I'll do a weekly post showing what I've got. I'm trying to come up with a name for it... Photo-a-Day by Mama A?

See? Nothing too crazy on here, but I think some good goals! We'll see how this goes in 360 days!

Friday, January 5, 2018

December 2017 Book Review

Guys, I think I had a really strong December! 5 really enjoyable books and several of them with some weight to them too.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate - A historical fiction story about 5 poor siblings stolen from their family during the 1930s. Georgia Tann was a real woman considered the 'mother of modern adoption' who was actually doing really terrible things to get children to sell and also treating those children terrible. By some, she is considered the most prolific serial killer because over 500 children died under her care for almost 30 years. This story jumped from the present where Avery is realizing there is some connection from her family to this horrible part of Tennessee history to the past where Rill and her 4 siblings are going through a living nightmare. OMG this story was TOUGH to read at times - especially knowing it was based on history but it was also SO GOOD. I loved it so, so much!

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas - Starr is riding in a car with her friend when they get pulled over by the police, and her friend is shot by the officer. Was it a racially motivated murder or a cop just doing his job? This was such an important book to read in today's society where prejudice is still all too prevalent - in my comfortable white life, I need to read more stories like this. 

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon - This was definitely the cheesiest book I read this month, but it was a relatively fun read. Dimple and Rishi's parents want to set them up {unbeknownest to Dimple} and hilarity ensues when they do meet. Dimple is AGAINST everything traditionally Indian while Rishi is definitely FOR it - it was fun seeing their different perspectives although a smidge too YA.

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan - A WW2 drama set in England about women of the homefront - LOVED IT! The story jumps from 5 different perspectives told through their journal entries and letters - the way the story was told kept it fast paced and there were enough storylines going to make it very interesting.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - Liesel steals her first book the day her brother dies - on a train on the way to their foster family in the early days of WW2 in Germany. The narrator is Death - such a unique way to tell the story - and it took me a little bit to get into a groove with the way the story is told {each part is about a different book Liesel steals}, but this was wonderfully written and such a good story. There aren't many books that I've come across that are from the German side, and even though they were the bad guys, there were still a lot of innocent 'regular' people starving, struggling to get by, being bombed by the Allies, oppressed by Nazis...it was good to remember war and Death doesn't distinguish good from bad. A really great book to end 2017.

I read 58 books in 2017 - I read 75 in 2016 - so this was a slower year for me {damn post-partum!}, but I'm hoping for at least 60 in 2018 - the POPSUGAR book challenge Allison and I are going to do has 40 prompts, plus 10 in the bonus which I bet we'll have to get into to declare a winner, so I have got to get after it! Here's to a great year of reading!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Highs and Lows - 2017 Rewind

Here we are again...at the end of another year. I've been blogging since December 2008, so that's NINE YEARS of posts. In 2018, I'll publish my 2,000th post and have been at this for a decade. So crazy! Overall, 2017 was not my favorite year - the upside was we spent the whole year as our complete family of 5 - but we had some job turmoil, LOTS of sickness, post-partum, my uncle's death... I'm hopeful as we go into 2018 that it'll be a better year! So let's see how 2017 stacked up:

Best Movie

I only saw 7 movies this year {compared with 22 last year}, so this isn't quite the assortment to choose from I normally have. I fully expect 2018 to get me back into prime movie watching - Allison and I have a LOT of Oscar movies still to see! But...my favorite of 2017 has to be...

Wonder Woman {review here}

Worst Movie

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword {review here}
It wasn't so much that it was awful {although Allison would say it was}, just that everything else was better!

Best Book

Cancel the Wedding by Carolyn T. Dingman
This will tell you how much I loved this book - I BOUGHT it and have already re-read it.

Worst Book

The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman

I am not sure if I should let this count since I didn't finish it, but that alone tells you how bad I thought it was - I NEVER don't finish a book! So disappointing because you guys know how much I love WW2 books.

Best Trip

We had 2 water-related Texas trips this year - a lake trip with my mom's side of the family and a trip to the JW Marriott in San Antonio with Brent's parents and brother's family. 

But I would say my favorite trip of the year was the 1-night getaway to San Antonio Brent and I took. It was hard for me to be away from Paige, but it was so worth it to get some 1-on-1 time with Brent. We definitely don't get enough of that with 3 kids, ha!

Best Experience

Not quite as exciting as birthing a baby like last year, but I certainly LOVED Paige's baptism! Such a special moment to share with my BFF {who is godmother to all my kids} and her son, Rhett, who I am godmother to.

Worst Experience

For me, it would be the return of post-partum. Battling that for the 3rd time was pretty awful. Thankfully I have a lot of great support and medication to even me out. Ha!

Favorite Family Picture

I love the picture we just took at Brent's Nannie's house on Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Happy 5th Birthday, Drew!

5 years ago today, Drew came barrelling into our lives.
We should have known we were in for a lifetime of drama! {grin}

Drew-baby is the sweetest, kindest, little spitfire.
She is the best sharer and snuggler.
She is an amazing sister who loves her family something fierce.

The world is going to see big things out of her!

Happy birthday, Drew!!!