Dec 30, 2009

2009 Year in Review

Getting tired of these end-of-the-year and end-of-the-decade blogs? Good. Here's one more. This is MY year-end review. Click on the photos to enlarge the image.

2009 Year in Review
It’s time to kick back and reflect on 2009. This is a good exercise and I suggestion you do it for yourself. 2009 flew by – looking back like this may help you realize that we all accomplished a lot in this quick year.

I reached the 1-year mark for living and working in Birmingham. I really lucked up in finding an affordable apartment that was very close to Julie’s house...but I'm glad to be outta there! I can’t believe that I’m beginning my third year of life in Birmingham. I never thought I’d live here.It's not so bad as long as you can put up with the bad drivers. In all seriousness, Birmingham has a lot to offer for those few occasions of free time.

FebruaryJulie and I traveled south to attend a wedding party in Mobile and for her to attend a shower in Atmore. Julie’s dad, brother, my dad and I all toured the new hotel and casino near Atmore. I enjoyed being back in Atmore and wish I could have gotten to see more of my old friends. To this day, I’ve only been back to Atmore twice since moving away in January of 2008. I’ll be going back a lot more when/if the Poarch Band of Creek Indians build a golf course on their hotel/casino site. By the way, I was very impressed with the hotel and thought that the casino and restaurants would compete very well against the establishments in Biloxi.

The highlight of March would definitely be visiting a few stops on the Kentucky Bour bon Trailwith Cousin Neil. I’ve got to give credit to Neil for his trip ideas. He spearheaded a rowdy trip to Luckenbach, TX, back in 1998 and I was really glad that he wanted to spend some time with me before my wedding. We stayed with Camden friend Joe Harvell in Bowling Green, KY. Joe went with us to tour the Maker’s Mark and Wild Turkey distilleries. Talk about opposite ends of the spectrum! Maker’s Mark was a smaller operation and allowed visitors to be very “hands-on”. Wild Turkey was a stainless steel behemoth with lots of closed doors. It was a very fun trip though!

AprilJulie and I got married on April 18th! Best day of my life! The whole weekend was great, actually. My parents threw a great rehearsal dinner and I got a lot of wise advice from Cousin Jay and my fraternity brothers afterwards. My emotions were pretty high during the rehearsal dinner but I had calmed down a lot before the wedding. My groomsman Clint still calls me every now and then to let me know that our wedding was one of the best he’s seen. The reception was top notch too! It flew by though! Not to sound fruity but everything was just so...magical.

Julie and I left the reception and stayed in Birmingham that night. We left for the Atlanta airport just a few hours later and headed to Bermuda. Oh sweet, sweet Bermuda. How I wish I was relaxing on your shores right now. What a week! First off, NO WORK! Secondly, lots of time at the pool! Thirdly, I got to add to my international golf experience! The best part was just spending time with my new wife. Our honeymoon week was a microcosm of 2009 – it zipped by in a blur. We’re definitely going back to Bermuda soon!

MayJulie began getting used to having a male roommate in May. I spent some of my May weekends getting familiar with the county dump since most of my bachelor belongings didn’t make the cut. I was just happy that Julie carved out a little closet space for me!

Julie actually got to meet the designer of her wedding dress. I thought that was so cool! Seriously!

Not long after our wedding, we traveled to Auburn for Cousin Katie and Eric Long’s wedding. Julie was the matron of honor. I had to flash my new ring several times at the reception to fend off dance requests.
Julie also turned one year older in May!

June was a pretty bland month. Nothing really sticks out to me. The US Open was delayed one day due to soggy conditions. My golf outings picked up in number. All apologies if I failed to recall a significant occasion we exeperienced with you in June.

We spent Independence Day weekend at the Corman’s house in Destin with Clay and Emily Branch and Sarah Harper Baggett. Bocephus (Clay) and I teed it up while the ladies sunned by the pool. The weekend was capped off with a great fireworks show.

AugustMy birthday was in August. We also went to St. Louis to see Mark and Kiley Talbot! St. Louis is a cool town. We had such a good time with great friends and even got to go to a Cards game. Mark took me to play golf in Illinois, making it the third state I played in this year.

SeptemberCollege football season kicked off. Julie and I attended Auburn’s games again Louisiana Tech and West Virginia with her parents. Both were great games and gave us a glimpse of some good things to come. Looking back, I don’t know if Auburn could rally back against WVU in a rematch. The effort seen in that game was solid proof that this year’s team did not have the “quitter” attitude seen so often in 2008.

OctoberIt was Halloween before we knew it. I Tweeted that the most common costume seen at our house was “plain-clothed Mexican child with a Wal Mart bag”. Julie fell ill and we opted to stay home for the trick-or-treaters rather than attending the Auburn/Ole Miss game. We thoroughly enjoyed watching the TV coverage!

Julie and I spent Thanksgiving with the Cormans in Auburn and kicked off our first holiday season as a married couple. We had a wonderful time and enjoyed a hearty feast with The Donaldsons (Julie’s maternal relatives in Auburn) and The Longs, our fellow newlyweds. We attended the Iron Bowl and watched the Tigers give a mighty effort. Spirits were surprisingly high after the game ended as Auburn fans shouted cheers while leaving the stadium.

December – probably the fastest of all the months. Three consecutive weekends of traveling to visit family made the days fly by, but it was worth it! We’ll spend Christmas weekend with my family in Camden.
Julie and I will cool our jets and ring in 2010 by ourselves in Birmingham. I hope everyone has had a fantastic 2009 and have an even better 2010!

Dec 23, 2009

Like Love and Don't Like

I managed to hear my favorite version of "The Christmas Song" twice last week. Still not enough!

This week, I like Lindt's Lindor Truffles. A business associate dropped a bag of these bad boys off last week as a little Christmas "thank you". These things are so good I can't begin to describe them. I'm not even sure of the best way to eat them. I've developed two styles. The Caveman style is your basic pop-and-chew method. The Priestly Way is a more methodical, melt-in-your-mouth approach. Attention Julie, friends and family: Lindt makes a white chocolate Lindor Truffle. Just thought you'd like to know.

This week, I love yard work. 14 year old Nick strongly protests but I've come to appreciate yard work and it's therapeutic releases. As previously mentioned, Julie and I are going to my parents house for Christmas. I might have an opportunity to rake some leaves with the old man or something else that will get me outdoors on Saturday. Click here to see a quick video from my favorite TV show of the moment. It's given me some great idea for Julie's yard!

This week, I don't like that "back to work" feeling. It's the same as that "back to school" feeling we all used to get during the last week of summer vacation. The difference is that the "back to work" feeling is more compact and accompanied by more resistance. The feeling can't be avoided and you know it's coming. The best you can do is make the most of your Christmas and try to keep your mind occupied with other things. Like Lindor Truffles.

I hope everyone has a great, wonderful, happy, safe and Merry Christmas. Most of all, I hope your Christmas isn't scary or confusing. Take it away, Raisins!

Dec 21, 2009

Christmas Card 2009

I was certain that 60 Christmas cards would be enough, but that was not the case. I will do a better job next year! If you didn't get one in the mail below is a picture of our very first Christmas Card. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Dec 16, 2009

Like, Love and Don't Like

Ho-ho-how are you doing?!?!

This week, I like The Christmas Song. I'll let you know right now that any version of this song NOT recorded by Nat King Cole will not suffice. I'm looking at you, Michael Bolton.

What's that you say? This doesn't sound quite like the version you and I most love? You've got good ears! I noticed a the same thing and did a little research. In the process, I discovered that 4 recorded versions have been made of this song - which was written by Mel Torme in the summer of 1944. The fourth version is considered the most known and most played version. I bet you already knew that Nat was born in Montgomery, AL. But would you know who Mel Torme was if it wasn't for Judge Harry Stone's adoration on Night Court? If you're my age or younger, probably not.
Unfortunately, I have not heard this song ONCE on the radio this holiday season. It's uncanny! Christmas is almost here and I haven't heard my favorite song yet!

This week, I love online shopping. The scene here in Bammerham...I mean, Birmingham...has been a sight to behold. You couldn't pay me to enter the jungle of shoppers at the Summit (sp?) or any other malls around here. I have managed to buy all buy one Christmas present online this year and I didn't even break a sweat. Shopping in stores is for the birds!
This week, I don't like the high likelihood of Tiger returning for the first major in 2010. Some say that I write too much about golf. But this must be addressed! There are children involved! Here's what I mean...I'm concerned that Tiger Woods will choose the Masters tournament to end his indefinite leave from golf. That's right, he'll skip all of the Hawaii, Florida and other not-so-important tourneys and make Augusta his first appearance in 2010. Can you imagine the media circus? And what if he wins? "Oh, we forgive you Tiger!" Not me! ADULTERER!

Dec 15, 2009

Holiday traveling and the sights we've seen

One could say that the holiday travel schedule officially kicked off for Julie and me back at Thanksgiving. Here's some photos of what we've seen so far. It's safe to say that we'll see even more interesting sights between now and New Year's!

First stop: Thanksgiving! Julie and I spent the Thanksgiving break at her parents in Auburn. We had a wonderful time with the Cormans, the Donaldsons and the Longs. During the visit, Julie and Ellen took a moment to give us the obligatory sister pose.

My father and my sister both have December birthdays. Julie and I traveled to Camden this past weekend to celebrate the aging. I took Julie by the old Camden water tower. I've had to take a can of paint up to the top many times to defend my sister's honor*.

*Copyright 1992 Jeff Foxworthy, Inc.

Sarah Harper and Dad enjoyed their Auburn-themed presents. Dad received his first official "old person gift" from SHB.

We also spent Sunday observing the annual tradition that is the Baggett/Wilder Christmas. Counsins Neil, Katie and Margie Gracie drove down from Auburn for a big lunch and family time. Margie Grace was very helpful in giving out the gifts! Looks like Neil was more interested in reading the paper though!

Julie had the wonderful idea of introducing a time-old Atmore tradition to Margie Grace by giving her a gift ball. Margie Grace definitely liked the surprises found while unwrapping the gift ball but the massive size of the ball tired her out quickly! Here's a great action shot:

Margie Grace came out pretty good with all of her new princess gear!

We'll be traveling to Auburn this weekend for a little pre-Christmas cheer with the Cormans and then back to Camden for Christmas Day. Who knows what we'll see?

Dec 7, 2009

Bring Your Old Buddy

I was fortunate enough to play golf for the second weekend in a row. Unfortunately, my concerns about frigid weather came true. Temperatures for this year's Bring Your Old Buddy Scramble started out very chilly and only warmed up to the low 50's. But it takes a lot more than cold weather to scare me off!

My good friend Clay Branch (his wife Emily's blog is here) and I decided that we would play in this event several weeks ago. The deal included a round of golf, our 2010 Robert Trent Jones trail card and lunch for a very reasonable price. Clay convinced his dad and one of his brothers to join us and we decided to take on the Senator course at the trail's site in Prattville - Capitol Hill. The scramble was on Sunday, the day after most of the Birmingham area receive a light snow dusting. As we were making our way toward our first hole, Clay and I quickly discovered that a windshield is very nice thing to have on a golf cart in December. (By the way, RTJ - what's up with that? Windshields are the standard now, aren't they?)

This was my first trip to Capitol Hill and I have to say that I wasn't blown away. I can't speak to the appearance of the Legislator or the Judge courses but it doesn't take a lot of words to describe the Senator: long, treeless, mounds. Each hole was divided by large, grassy mounds and featured zero trees. Most of the greens seemed to be uphill and the par 3's were amazingly long. The tee boxes were the widest I've ever seen. The winterized conditions of the greens and fairways (seen in the pics and vids below) were understandable but made me long for greener sights.

I had a blast and we made a great team. We shot a 55 and were one stroke out of 3rd place for our course. We only parred 3 holes and birdied or eagled every other hole. Everybody contributed and I can't emphasize how much fun I had. Here's some of the action:

Money was raised for charity from purchases of mulligans and throws (throw the ball to extend the position of your last shot). I'm not sure if we executed the throw concept properly but here's Clay warming up. This was on the par-5 17th:

Clay is already used to performing on camera. He's getting ready for the Champions Tour.

Here's a fairway approach with one of my new irons. I thinned the shot a little bit but the ball ended up in about 4 feet from the hole. The team owed that birdie to Julie!

Here's a new view of one of Clay's big bombs off the tee box. This was one of his longest drives of the day and as his dad attests, it was right down the middle!

All in all, a great day! Grand National is still the top RTJ trail site in my mind. Thanks to Clay and his family for two great weekends of golf and a BIG thanks for my wife and family for letting me venture away for a few hours!

Dec 2, 2009

Like, Love and Don't Like

I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving. I had a great time with Julie's family in Auburn and we thoroughly enjoyed the long break.

This week, I like the idea of getting a portable sound effect machine for Christmas. I really just need one sound effect to have on standby to use at a moment's notice throughout my day:

I've already got the witty jokes and sharp one-liners. Can you imagine if I had access to this sound effect each time I cracked the crowd up? KILLER!

Of course, Julie probably thinks that my sense of humor is more deserving of this sound effect:

This week, I love putting up the Christmas tree and decorations with my wife. This is our first Christmas as man and wife. Julie originally showed a lot more interest in decorating than I did but I came on strong near the end*. Now I'm checking the tree every morning to see if it needs more water and scanning the mail for new Christmas cards. It's just a shame that we'll have to put everything back up in the attic in a few weeks.

* = not actually true

This week, I don't like cold weather. This will be the second weekend in a row that I get to play golf. I'm playing with Clay "Bocephus" Branch, along with his dad and his brother on Sunday. We're teaming up for the Bring Your Old Buddy four man scramble that the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail puts on every year. We're playing the Senator course at Capitol Hill in Prattville. Last weekend, the weather was almost perfect with only fleeting moments of chilliness. This Sunday is supposed to be downright cold. At least we'll be playing golf! I can't wait!

Finally, one last clip to touch on the national media crisis that is Tiger Woods. This clip is dedicated to my friend Mark Talbott, of St. Louis, MO. Mark is recovering from H1N1. God speed Mark! And Tiger...there's always Fubu!

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