Friday, December 30, 2016


I think we can all agree that on a very broad scale, 2016 has sucked.  And it's sucked large time.  We've lost so many icons . . . Prince, David Bowie, George Michael . . . and I'm writing this on Wednesday evening and literally JUST learned that Debbie Reynolds passed just a day after Carrie Fisher.  Add to all that the fact that we elected Donald freakin' Trump as our next president and, well, yeah.  2016 can burn in a fire.  On the broad scale.
Personally, though, aside from our next president, it's been a pretty damn good year.  I love, love, love, LOVE doing a year-in-review post because I go through all my pictures and remember, "oh yeah!  That happened!"  It's kinda the reason I blog too. 
I set out to post my favorite picture from each month, but, ummm, wasn't gonna happen.  Too many pictures to choose from!  Here ya go . . . my 2016: Year in Review . . .
On the first, we celebrated the boy's 11th birthday!  We did a meal, cake, and presents at home then went to watch Marvel Live at FedEx Forum.

The very next day, Mark and I went to see my Razorbacks play right here in Memphis at the Liberty Bowl.  We tailgated with friends of his who were K State fans and had the BEST time.  And!  Razorbacks won.

Then, on the 21st, we celebrated Mark's birthday.  I won't tell ya how old he turned! 


The highlight of the entire month of February was easily the Broncos winning the Super Bowl and our boy Peyton going out on a high note.  We had a small Super Bowl party and one very, very, VERY happy K1 at the end of the night!

My Uncle Steve came to town.  We went to dinner with him a couple nights and to the Grizzlies game one night.  The kids loved "Uncle Late for Supper."

At the tail end of the month, the three of us went to GiGi's house for Easter!  It was a spur of the moment trip that ended up being really fun.


My baby girl turned SIX on April 5th!  We celebrated with a "paw-ty."
In perhaps the most exciting news of the year, we made an offer on a house and it was accepted!  House hunting is an incredibly stressful experience.  I don't think I'll ever forget the disappointment when the offer on "our" first house was rejected or the joy when the offer on our current house was accepted.
P.S. We're totally in the right place for us!!!  WE LOVE OUR HOUSE!

In late April, I met up with Mo and D in Chicago for a super fun and amazing weekend!

My boy turned eight on the 9th!  We celebrated with a birthday party at the skating rink.

I turned . . . much older than eight . . . on the 19th.  Anthony babysat while Mark and I went to dinner then it was back home for cake with our crazy crew.

The Friday before Memorial Day was the last day of school.  It was also the day we CLOSED ON OUR HOME!  We spent Memorial Day weekend moving in and unpacking and you know what?  I wouldn't have it any other way.  It was awesome.  We love, love, love, love, LOVE our house.


We had our first house guests when Ed and Beth and their family joined us for Father's Day weekend. 


Mo and Mari and their kiddos came in to town to celebrate the Fourth with us and we had the best time.  The Best!

For the second year, we spent our family vacation in Hot Springs.  We went to Magic Springs, rented a pontoon on the Ouachita River, and just had a BLAST.

Later in the moth, hell froze over and MY BROTHER CAME TO VISIT ME!  The kiddos had so much fun playing with their cousins and we all enjoyed being able to catch up and spend time with each other.  (We also played some pretty epic games of Cards Against Humanity wherein I discovered I'm related to truly horrible people.)

The very day my brother and family left, Mark's lifelong friend Chris and his family arrived. We had a blast doing the touristy thing in Memphis with them. (With EIGHT kids!!!!)

The brats went back to school! ***ALL THE PRAISE HANDS *** (I'm writing this as someone whose liver needs a break from winter break!)

Mark's mom, both his brothers, and their families came to visit the weekend after school started.  My mom and grandma came down too.  It was a full house and crazy busy but, honestly, we had such a great time.  And I loved the kids getting to soak in so much cousin time over the course of the summer.

Ahhhhh, September!!!!  FOOTBALL!   We hosted for the first college game of the year/ fantasy draft party.  We've hosted A LOT (I swear, entertaining is my love language.  And probably dips) but this was my favorite of the year.  We did a taco bar with beef, chicken, and shrimp tacos and it was just FUN. 

We also took a trip to the Delta Fair -- my first time ever!

Mark and I went to Oxford for our first college football game of the season and his first time ever to experience the Grove.  Memphis lost - and lost large time! - but we had

The very next weekend, we took three super handsome boys to Indianapolis for their first ever NFL game.  Unfortunately, the Bears lost to the Colts but these guys had too much fun and also got to realize what a blast tailgating is.

J had his Golden Birthday - he turned 10 on the 10th! - and we celebrated with a football party the weekend after his birthday.
We had the hottest Halloween I can remember EVER.  It was 90 degrees at Trick or Treat time (and the boys jumped in the pool the next day!) and we had a MINION times the fun!


We went to Gatlinburg to celebrate Russell's 50th birthday and had the absolute BEST time.  The scenery was breathtaking, the company was awesome.  We had a GREAT weekend.

Then, just a few days later, we had a framily Thanksgiving celebration.  My first time ever to host!  My mom and her husband spend a few days with us, Jon and Cady came over.  It was a fun day.

The day after Thanksgiving, we took three of the kidlets to the Memphis/ Houston game for what ended up being the best college game we watched all year.  It was AWESOME.  Aaaaaand MEMPHIS WON!


This girl turned TEN!  (Gahhhh!  Send help!  Two ten-year-olds!)  We celebrated with a "bake shop" themed birthday party.

On the 9th, Mark and I celebrated our anniversary.  And, eight days later, on the 17th, we REALLY celebrated by jetting off to paradise, I mean, Cancun.  We had an amazing vacation.  Can I go back?  Now?  Please?

And, finally, we ended the year by celebrating Christmas with family and with friends . . . with just the people who mean the most to us.

Tomorrow night, we'll celebrate the boy's birthday and we'll celebrate our friend Jason's birthday.  We'll play a lot of games, we'll eat a lot of food.  I'll remember that year my Grandad broke his hip and my cousin Kristi went into labor (with a kid who is now old enough to be MARRIED!) We'll watch Alabama whip up on Washington (cringe) and we'll drink too much and wear goofy head crowns and glasses.   We'll lament over the Eff-You-See-Kay cluster that 2016 was and I might even sing Purple Rain. 

See ya, 2016.  Bring it on, '17!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016!

We officially kicked off our Christmas-ing the night of the 24th, with a party at Mark's aunt's house.  She's been hosting this party since before Mark was even born and, every single year, the big jolly guy makes an appearance with presents for all the kids.
It really was magical . . . especially watching the very young children sit on Santa's lap and witness their sheer excitement. 
The party was also a chance for me to meet everyone on Mark's mom's side of the family.  And I do mean everyone.  There were a good 40 or so people there.  It felt a lot like Christmas Eve at my Granny and Grandad's house back in the day (just much colder!)
We went back to Mark's brother's house that night and finally got the kids to sleep after showing them on the NORAD Santa tracker that the big guy was in Peoria.  So close!  Our nephew, Jack, was up three or four different times during the night -- including as early as 3 a.m.!  We finally all got up at 7:00 and - YAY!  SANTA CAME!


After opening gifts, it was time for us to hit the road to Memphis.  Our "Christmas lunch" consisted of burgers and fries and, honestly, we were just thankful Hardee's was open!  We made it back, picked the boy up, and grilled steaks for dinner.
I regret not taking pictures of this but - Santa filled our stockings while we were away!  We came in the house and there they were, all filled to the brim.  I wanted to do something "Santa" since we'd be returning on Christmas Day and the stockings - with the help of Santa Kendra - seemed to be the best way to go.
My kiddos came home the day after Christmas and we got to celebrating and opening our mountain of gifts.

Since we'd already had the traditional ham and turkey dinner on Christmas Eve then steaks on Christmas night, we decided to shake things up a little for our meal.  I made two kinds of enchiladas, queso, rice, and beans.  The kids were too excited for presents to really dig in, though.

We'd been telling the boys since October that our trip to the Bears/ Colts game was their Christmas present and they weren't getting much more.  They each opened two gifts and then this happened . . .

Followed by this, easily the highlight of the day . . .

LOVE IT!  There's a good chance Mark and I both got a little tear-y at the reaction.

Merry Christmas 2016!  We still have one more Christmas to squeeze in with my mom but, so far, despite the weird of not having my kids on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, it's been a holiday for the record books!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Pre-Christmas Shenanigans

If I could pick one word to describe this Christmas, it would be weird.  I've been a mom for ten years and this was the first time ever I didn't wake up with my kids on Christmas day.  It sucked and I knew it would suck so I told Mark, "distract me."  That he did.  We left for Chicago on the 16th, enjoyed time there with family and friends, spent five days in Cancun, came back to Chicago, went to the Bears game, and did Christmas-y things with family.  So, yeah, it was weird but it was also a lot of fun.  And I'm really thankful we had the girl child - as well as our niece and nephew - to enjoy Christmas morning with.
Anyway, that said, let's get on with the pre-Christmas shenanigans!  I'll post about Cancun (spoiler: we had an amazing time!) after all the Christmas-y things.
Friday December 16th was the last day of school for the semester.  It was also class parties and the school sing-along.

I hit up four parties in an hour and, after the parties, met up with Mark so we could see two of the kiddos perform with the Glee Club in the school wide sing-along.

This event is SO NEAT.  I love our school so much and things like this are one of the many reasons why.  The Glee Club sang, the school band and orchestra performed, the music teachers led a sing-along, and they also had a toy drive for Porter-Leith.  It was such a fun morning!

We left for Chicago around 2:00 Friday afternoon.  It was smooth sailing until we got just outside of Champagne, Illinois, and . . . ICE.  Yikes.
There were so many cars that had slid off the roads.  We sat in traffic for about half an hour waiting for salt trucks to catch up and get the roads drive-able again. 

What is normally around a seven hour drive ended up taking more like nine.  We were so tired once we got there but so happy to see Ed and Beth!  We ended up staying up and talking until 2 a.m., it had been six months since we'd seen them!

We woke up Saturday morning to this . . .

We spent Saturday hanging out with Mark's family.
Coloring with his mom ;)

We had Mark's favorite pizza - Aurelio's super six - for dinner, played an Uno tournament (I lost miserably), and had birthday cupcakes for the Girl Child.

Mark and I left Saturday night to stay with my friend Mo in the city and be closer to the airport because we had a very early morning flight on Sunday (or we were supposed to.)  More on Cancun later.  For now, we'll focus on when we got back in the (very, very cold) city . . .
Friday, we went to Naperville for Lou Malnati's pizza with Mark's college roommate and his wife.  We had a great time visiting with them and the pizza was delish.
Saturday morning, Christmas Eve, we were up bright and early for . . . Bears football!

Mark's brother and my friend Mo went along with us.  We tailgated for a bit then made our way to the game.

It ended up being a not-so-great game.  The Bears lost . . . by 20 . . . but, hey, playing for that draft pick!  We still had a blast at the game and it was a really fun way to spend Christmas Eve.  After the game, we got the ball rolling on all things CHRISTMAS.