Then there was this big move….

The last time I wrote we hadn’t even moved into our house yet.  Well, we moved in!  It has been crazy and busy and crazy.  Yes, two times the crazy.  Moving into a new home 12 days before Christmas is probably not the easiest thing in the world.  The day after we moved in we picked up and drove to Tyler for the family Christmas party.  The next weekend we were in Oklahoma for Christmas.  Now suddenly Christmas is over and we have been living in our house for about 2 1/2 weeks now.

The day after Christmas Nathan woke up and asked me what the plan was.  I said there was no plan.  We wasn’t very excited about this.  He looked at me, and with MUCH exasperation in his voice said, “NEW HOUSE!”  He was eager to get going on things.  I was eager to lay in bed and finally rest and you know, DO NOTHING!

I had been going nonstop for weeks.  There was this major house moving thing that took up much of my time.  There was Christmas to prepare for.  And I have a little obligation called work that I must do.  My to-do list had been miles long for weeks and the day after Christmas I woke up and realized it was finally all over.  I had very little desire to do anything but lay in bed and breathe.

But he was right.  There was plenty to do and we still weren’t finished moving our life out of my parents’ home.  So,I got up. Later mom called and she and pop came to help with some projects.

The house is slowly coming together.  Every time I complete one project I have 6 new ones waiting for me and I feel like for every box I unpack there are still mountains of them left to open in the garage.

But it is coming together.  Slowly this house is starting to feel a bit like home.  It is becoming familiar.  The boys still don’t sleep through the night in their new room.  I still feel like we are visiting and soon it will be time to leave.  But with every item that is put away and placed in its new spot, it becomes more real, more permanent.

I am happy.

3 more days

I spent today at the house with the carpet installers.  I didn’t expect to be there all day.  I was.

Soon after I got to the house I decided to turn the heat on a for a bit.  It was cold.  The heat wouldn’t come on.  The AC wouldn’t come on.  The fan wouldn’t come on!  I was freaking out.  We know they work.  We have used both the heat and AC since we bought the house.  We have had all the units serviced.

Then the carpet guy asked if they could turn the heat on to help loosen up the carpet fibers.  He said it is easier to install and stretch if the carpet is warm.

Bad day for the heat to unexplainably quit working!

Fortunately my dad came to the rescue.  He discovered the unit over the garage had been turned off in the attic and the unit over the bedrooms had a wire loose in the thermostat.  Both units are working and it was a quick and easy fix.  I won’t lie….I was totally freaking out for awhile!

I spent my day at the house cleaning floors and lining drawers and cleaning the rest of the leaves out of the pool.

I never shared the pool story.  One day, I think the weekend after Thanksgiving, it was really windy and most of the neighbors leaves were coming down out of their massive pecan tree and landing right in our pool.  I went to clean out what was already at the bottom of the pool.  Only I couldn’t find the 15 foot pole that reaches the bottom of the pool.  I searched the whole yard.  I even called Nathan.  How the hell do you lose a 15 foot pole?  A few other things were odd and I finally decided that someone must have been in our backyard.  An uninvited someone…or two or more.  Most likely kids who know the house is empty and who were playing around.  Still….I was a bit peeved.  Of all the things in the backyard what the hell did they need a 15 foot pole for?

That afternoon Nathan and I bought a HUGE lock for the gate.  We have been meaning to do that since we bought the house in September and just never did it.  With no one living there we wanted to make sure the pool was secure.  It bothers me that someone was clearly in our backyard.  We should have made a point to get that lock back in September like we had planned.  Oh well…..lesson learned.

Saturday I bought a new 15 foot pole and a contraption to get up all the leaves at the bottom of the pool.  I had a hell of a time on Saturday because the water was cloudy and it was hard to see.  Still, I removed two trash bags full of leaves.  Before I left I dumped in a bunch of chlorine to clean up the water.  Today the water was lovely and clear and it was so much easier to get the rest of the leaves out because I could see what I was doing!  The pool is now clean.  The neighbor’s tree is free of leaves and hopefully the worst season of owning a pool is now over.  We are going to have to come up with a plan for next fall!

Tomorrow the duct cleaning people are coming as well as the electrician’s crew.  The are going to fix a lingering electrical issue and install all the new switches and plugs and a few light fixtures.

3 days and I will be moving in.  So close!  So ready!

Moving Week!

It is finally here!  Moving week!

We moved in with my mom and dad on Saturday, April 26th.  We will be spending our final night in their house on Thursday, December 11th.

7 months 16 days.

32 weeks 6 days.

230 days.

During that time we sold our house.  We found a new house.  We went through the short sale process.  We purchased the house.  We tore down lots of wallpaper, chipped up tile floors, removed a tub, did demo on a termite damaged bathroom, fixed a leaking swimming pool, and a million other little things.  We went through WEEKS of renovation.

But our wait is almost over.  I can’t complain about living with my parents.  They are laid back people.  Living with them has been easy the grand majority of the time.  And while we love them dearly….we really need our own space again.  They need their own space again.

Today we spent several hours at the house.  Nathan and my dad installed door knobs and a few of the blinds.  I cleaned windows and toilets and cabinet hardware.

This week is busy….

Monday ~ carpet install

Tuesday ~ duct cleaning and some final electrical things

Wednesday ~ MOVERS! will move our things from storage and AT&T will be there to set up the internet

Thursday ~ My dining table will be delivered

Friday ~ We will move our beds and sleep in our new home!

Two things that aren’t scheduled this week that will also probably happen….the alarm system will be updated and the gas logs will be installed in the fire place.

I am so excited!  I have so much to do!  I should be sleeping….

2014 Advent ~ Week 1

It’s that time of year again!  Time for trees and lights and shopping.  Holiday activities and moments of quiet squeezed into a month that goes by so quickly I am always left, sitting in January, wondering what happened to December.

Years ago….before my kids were old enough to even understand Christmas I watched Andrea do Advent activities with her girls.  She titled it “25 Days of Christmas” and made these little envelopes they hung up and tucked in a little slip of paper each day.  The idea was to enjoy the month and not end up on December 26th wondering what happened to the time.  I couldn’t wait to start my own tradition with the boys and we are now in year 3 with our own version of the 25 Days of Christmas / Advent Activities.

The boys LOVE opening an tiny envelope every day to find out what special treat or activity will are going to do.  They eagerly await “the hanging of the envelopes” on the mantel.  This year they forgot, probably because we are still living with my parents and don’t have our usual Christmas decorations up.  I hung the envelopes after they went to bed last Saturday and when they say it Sunday morning the JUMPED into our bed with giddy excitement.  It was totally worth not reminding them!

I am not completely sure how I am going to pull off 25 days of advent this year with the move to our new house right in the middle.  But this tradition is so worth it to me.  Each envelope is a memory for them (and me) to cherish.  And it is a way to enjoy December even with a move!

Instead of blogging each day (which I clearly don’t have time for), I am going to blog by the week.  If you watch my Instagram feed you will already know what we are doing.  :)

I start our advent celebration on November 30th.  This way, the boys open the 25th envelope on Christmas Eve.  The first year we started on December 1st and we never opened that 25th envelope which basically said, “Happy Christmas!”.  I also like the idea that when we take down that last little envelope the long wait is over….its like cutting that last link on the paper chain!

Day 1 ~ Making Gingerbread houses at Church ~ This was our first activity last year so I didn’t even have to write a new slip of paper for the envelope!  Dean was so excited he didn’t even want to leave church.  He just wanted to wait at church until 3pm when it was time to decorate.  I love how we now have this tradition within a tradition.  It is also a super easy way for me to start the season….no work for me!  The church does all the work!  :)  Love our church!


Below is Dean’s house.


Below is Emory’s house.  Notice Santa standing on the roof with his reindeer.  This child is ALL about the details!


Day 2 ~ Receive a Special Surprise! ~ How is that for a super vague advent activity!  :)  Last Monday was a crazy day!  I had an appointment to meet with a company to clean our ducts, the refrigerator was being delivered, and I ended up having the big walk through for final discussions with the contractor.  Plus I was sick.  I knew exactly what the activity for the day would be but I left them hanging for a bit.  I finally caved and told them that after work (and my three trips to the house) I was going to take them to Build a Bear.  They had been eyeing Santa’s Reindeer for a few days online and I thought this would be a great thing.  A bit more extravagant that we usually do for Advent, but they are really into the reindeer thing this year and they have never been to Build a Bear (mostly because I have to barter Dean as payment…that place is CRAZY on the prices).  Dean wasn’t so excited at first.  He actually cried and asked for something different because he didn’t really like reindeer.  I knew he was just freaking out because he had never been to Build a Bear and was nervous about what he had to do there.  As expected he totally changed his mind when we walked in and went on the full tour.


They are both official members of Team Santa.  Dean proudly owns Rudolph (even though he absolutely hated that song for all of November and would make Emory miserable by talking loudly over it….because of course Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer is Emory’s FAVORITE Christmas song ever….next to I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas and Feliz Navidad).  Emory agonized over which reindeer he wanted.  He studied the website and made chart with check marks to help decide.  He decided it would either be Donner or Blitzen.  He proudly owns Dasher…..because Dean said that was the best choice.  LOL.  I just can’t keep up with these two sometimes.

Day 3 ~ Make Art for Your New Bedroom ~ Dean was pretty insistent on having a red bedroom at our new house.  Emory was equally insistent on a green bedroom.  Mommy vetoed both options, including their idea that one wall be green and one wall be red.  I refuse to have a permanent Christmas room among other reasons for the veto.  I did promise that I would come up with a better idea.  That idea was their own art ON CANVAS to hang over their beds in their new room.  Day 3 was about creating that art.  We haven’t finished but we are doing pretty good so far.  Emory is my artist and needed little help or guidance, although I did help and guide a bit.  Dean….sweet Dean is not my artist.  He is too particular and cannot tolerate mistakes and not being able to erase.  I had to help him a bit more.

They both wanted one canvas to be Angry Bird related.  Because…Angry Birds….and a phase that we will be in for the rest of eternity…


This is Dean’s.  He did a bit of painting here….the blue one and yellow one and black one.  I did most of the rest as he pointed to where it needed to go and if I was doing it good enough.  Happily he thinks they are perfect and that I am the best artist in the world……….     I am not finished yet and as of Saturday night the canvas still looks exactly like this.  I plan to finish it up tomorrow so it is ready to hang above his bed on Friday.


This is Emory’s Angry Bird art.  It isn’t finished yet.  I would like to point out Rudolph up there pulling what I think must be an Angry Bird Santa.


But this is the art I love the most.  This is Emory’s art.  It is an Okapi.  He LOVES Okapis.  He has a stuffed one.  He sketched it out first and then painted.  I painted the sky and grass and part of the green section of the tree.  Emory loves art and detail….he does not like filling in with paint.  But this is all him and I totally love it.

Dean…..doesn’t not have a second canvas yet.  I have been told it will be a rainbow….or maybe another Angry Bird.  I am really going to push for the rainbow because I am kind of DONE with the Angry Birds.

Day 4 ~ Make Cinnamon Spice Christmas Ornaments ~ My mom and I first made Cinnamon Spice Christmas ornaments the Christmas of 1991.  My grandmother (Mom’s mom) passed 3 days after Christmas of 1990.  Mom agreed to put up Christmas if we did something completely different that year.  She saw in a magazine that fall these cinnamon spice ornaments cut in hearts and stars decorating an entire tree.  So we made them….TONS of them.  My hands smelled like cinnamon for days.  We didn’t have any other Christmas decorations that year.  Since then I have made a few over the years, but nothing like that year.  This year I decided to do it with the boys.  We move into our house 11 days before Christmas.  11 DAYS!  I am not going to have time to take out all of our decorations and also unpack a house.  So….homemade ornaments it is!  And lovely cinnamon spice smelling ornaments at that.  They had a blast! (I say cinnamon spice ornaments because I don’t only use cinnamon like many of the recipes online.  Those ornaments we made back in 1991 were made with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  So that is what we used.  I have no idea if it makes a difference as I have never made any with only cinnamon.)


Day 5 ~ Garland’s Christmas on the Square ~ This is another tradition within a tradition.  This was our 3rd visit to Christmas on the Square.  It was a great evening and PACKED!  Both boys complained about every activity as we were completing in but both also said several times that it was the best night ever.  These two are a walking contradiction!

Day 4 ~ Garland Christmas Tree lighting #25daysofchristmas #adventactivities

A video posted by Ginger (@ginger_swanner) on

I know it says Day 4….but I just messed up!  The light up wrist bands we all had on were pretty cool!


There was some snow tubing (this is Dean).


And some crazy.


And some less crazy.


And us.

There was also standing in line for 30 minutes for hot chocolate…maybe more like 45.  And it wasn’t even really cold enough for it.  Oh….and balloons!



Day 6 ~ Buy our Christmas Tree! ~ In order to save myself from setting up our “everlasting” tree I decided to go with a real on this year.  The boys are thrilled.  I am excited that I don’t have to “fluff” a real tree.  I can just string some lights and then we decorate.  Either way, when it is all over I will have to vacuum.  Right now the tree is in water in our garage at the new house.  It is waiting until Friday to go into the house.


Day 7 ~ Rowlett Christmas Parade ~ Today was the Rowlett Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting.  I decided on just the parade. I agreed to help out at the church sponsored bounce house first and then we would walk around and see what there was to see and then watch the parade.  Emory has been begging for a Christmas parade since Halloween.  For once things worked out well.  Nathan didn’t have a basketball game during the time when we would be at the events so he and the boys were able to walk around and do things while I was at the bounce house.  Then we visited the “Touch a Truck” vehicles while we waited for the parade.  The parade did not disappoint since people were hurling candy at us….and I do mean hurling.  I think Rowlett is lucky no kids were hurt with all the running in the street to get the hurled candy.  The best was Santa at the end of the parade.

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I told them to enjoy sitting on the motorcycle because mommy says NO to owning or riding them!

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So there you go….Week 1!  It has been a busy week.  Week 2 promises more little treats and fewer activities.  It is moving week and I think I have appointments and move related events every day this next week.

The Final Day

After 6 long weeks I am told that today is the final day of renovations!

I don’t know because I haven’t been to the house since Tuesday afternoon.

Also….there are still other things that are happening next week….just not the contractor’s crews.

If it isn’t raining we will be taking the washer and dryer out this afternoon.

Even if it is raining we will be purchasing our Christmas Tree and taking it to the house today.  Buying a REAL tree is the boys’ advent for the day.  It is also a first because they have never had a real tree.  This will only be my second real tree in my life….and I am pretty excited about it!  :)

Last night I mentioned to the boys that we are in the very last week of living with Gigi and Pop.  That caused MANY tears.  They are excited about the house.  But giving Gigi and Pop “hugs, kisses, and noses” each night at bedtime has become a very important part of their day and bedtime routine.  They are going to miss that.

House Renovation ~ Update 6

So….I got sick.  I don’t suppose the boys gave it to me since it wasn’t strep.  It hasn’t been bad….just an big inconvenience.

Monday was a busy day.  I met with the company that will clean our ducts out.  Then the refrigerator was delivered!  And for my 3rd trip to the house in one day, I met with the contractor.

It ended up being our END of project walkthrough!  I asked him what next week was going to look like because I mentioned that I was hopeful we could start moving a few things in.  Then he said, “Well….you can start this weekend if you want because we will be done on FRIDAY!!!!!” (I added those exclamation points….the contractor wasn’t really that excited….but I was!  :)

So yeah….I restrained my excitement while standing with the contractor and his assistant and a house full of men working on my house.  But instead I was jumping up and down again.  My cough probably saved me from actually embarrassing myself in front of all those people.

A tentative moving timeline has been set.

This weekend

  • start moving in kitchen items as the kitchen is complete
  • move the school things as the school room is complete
  • install blinds
  • install door knobs
  • install new front and garage door locks.
  • move washer and drier to house
  • move other items in storage to the house that won’t be in the way of carpet install or duct cleaning




  • Duct cleaning
  • our electrician friend is bring his crew to install all new switches and plugs
  • the electrician will also be installing my amazing new light in the breakfast area and reinstalling the dining room chandelier and the entry light.
  • the electrician will also install our new bedroom fan


  • Nothing official but I am sure I will do something


  • Dining room table that I bought in August will be delivered!!!!




  • Go to Tyler to see family


  • Work on moving whatever is left and unpacking and decorating for Christmas.

Sometime in there we will also be updating the alarm system and having our gas logs installed in the fireplace.  Oh an internet and phone will be turned on as well.  :)

It is all just so exciting!

2 weeks

2 weeks from tonight we will be on our way home for Tyler.  We will have spent a lovely day with family.

We will be driving home….to OUR home….oh we are so close!

Tonight Nathan and I started installing hardware.




The painting crew was at the house today when mom and I went to remeasure for blinds.  They were staining the quarter round and doing touch up paint.  There are a few big projects left like finishing the boys bathroom and repairs and paint in the garage.  There is still a bit of paint left to do inside as well.

Tomorrow we are going to install blinds and probably some more hardware.  Monday the refrigerator is being delivered.  I also have an appointment with a company to give us an estimate on cleaning the duct work.  (It is HORRIBLE and disgusting.)  I might also be meeting the plumber out there on Monday as we had a flood in the guest bath and we have tried, and failed, to fix the problem.

So close….I am so close to going home!