Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Box Full of Sunshine

One of my favorite people is going through a rough time right now so some girlfriends and I got together and sent her "a box full of sunshine . . .  because you're one tough cookie!"
 
I had so much fun putting the box together - and even more fun knowing that my friend really loved and appreciated it - that I thought I would share here.  I didn't get great pictures (they were mostly taken to show the other girls what I'd gotten!) but I can still give some fun ideas if you want to put together your own box of sunshine for someone who might need their day brightened a little.
 
First, I went for all things YELLOW.  Bright, happy, cheerful.  The exception in this was the pajamas because, well, I couldn't find any cute PJ's.  Instead, I went with a cute pair that were light and comfy and seemed perfect for summer.
 

Then I started adding YELLOW (and gold!)  I included:
 
- Face mask
- Bath bomb
- Chapstick (I'm a Burt's Bees whore)
- Four pack of Chardonnay (plastic bottles for mailing!)
- Bath puff
- Individual lemonade packets
- Body wash
- Lotion (Jergen's golden)
- Journal
- Fun gold pineapple sunglasses
- Snyder's pretzels
- Milk Duds
- Juicy Fruit gum
- Peanut M&M's
- Milky Way candy bars
- Yellow packaged cookies (one tough cookie!) -- Pecan Sandies, Fudge Sticks, Golden Oreos
 

I threw in some boredom busters too: word find, crossword puzzle, Sudoku, and an adult coloring book with colored pencils.  We also added a Target gift card.


I wrote "a box full of SUNSHINE cause you are one tough cookie!" on the box, sealed it up, and then away to the post office I went.

It was SUCH a fun box to put together and could be made for anyone going through a hard time . . . or even as a care package to someone far from home.  Who couldn't use a little sunshine?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Birthday!

If you'd asked me mid-day Friday how my birthday was going, I would've told you:

Well, I went outside to lay out and as soon as I got settled, the sun disappeared and it started thundering. And then I got stung by a wasp. 
 
Yeah. So the birthday started a little rocky. Actually and technically it started great because as soon as I opened my bedroom door I saw gifts waiting for me. But things went downhill from there. And at one point I can remember thinking, no one cares about your birthday but you and your mama. (And your boyfriend if you're lucky.)

Things got MUCH better though and I ended up having a great birthday weekend!  We just won't talk about the first 14 hours or so of the actual birthday.  ;)

Since my birthday fell on a Friday, we decided to have a cookout that night and invite a few friends over.  It rained most of the afternoon but fortunately stopped by the time Mark lit the grill.  We were able to sit outside and visit and the kiddos even got in the pool 
We usually buy cakes at the Sam's closest to our house.  The cakes are delish and a great price but the customer service is the worst.  Hence Mark writing the "Happy Birthday" on my cake. 

I was having so much fun that I only took TWO pictures.  That never happens!
 
She looked so goofy with her hair tucked into her goggles that I had to snap this one.


The party wound down and everyone headed home around 10:30.  Never mind that 15-ish years ago, that would've been when we were getting ready to START the party. 

 
When Dennis and Linda showed up they handed me a gift bag and said, "don't open in front of the kids!"
Ha!
We kept the celebrating going on the next day.  My kiddos went with their dad after K1's baseball game Saturday morning and the Girlchild went off to spend the day with Jason and Kendra.  And so Mark and I spent the afternoon . . . NAPPING.  I was so glorious, you don't even know.  The last couple weeks of school have kicked our butts and while I probably should've been cleaning or catching up on laundry or something, sleep won out.

After that, we headed to Happy Mexican for margaritas and a little birthday celebration, just the two of us.

We had a great dinner and the weather was perfect for patio-sitting.  And there was some added drama as well.  There was a large group seated when we got there - they were loud and obnoxious the entire dinner.  I'm taking, filthy language and one guy harassed every single woman of color who walked by.  When their bill came, they refused to pay the 18% gratuity . . . you know, the one that's standard for large groups and pretty much every restaurant everywhere.  The police ended up being called and it was just . . . ugh.  So Memphis.  So gross.  We spoke to the manager and an officer when we were leaving, letting them know whatever gratuity was charged wasn't enough because of how awful the group was.
 
After dinner and that little show, we went over to Russell and Kathy's for a while.  We hung out with them for a bit before heading home . . . again by 10:30.  Yes, even though we napped all day!
 
On Sunday, we worked.  The Girlchild and I went shopping in the morning to get things for the kids' Last Day Luau on Friday.  When we got home, Mark and I painted a table and then our back deck.  We took a break for a dip in the pool then did some yard work. 
 
Pretty fun weekend!  Then yesterday kicked off . . . LAST WEEK OF SCHOOL!  I'm so ready to not have the nightly bedtime fight (but I'm not tired! Just one more drink!) I'm so ready to not have to mess with mornings.  I'm so ready not to be up at the school EVERY DAMN DAY.  I'm so ready for baseball to be over (last night!)  I'm just ready for the break.  Bring it!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thursday Things

1) The end of the school year always kind of kicks my butt.  There's just SO MUCH going on.  And even though we basically have our morning routine down to a science, getting the kids up the past few days has been a chore.  I keep reminding them, "eight more mornings, seven more mornings" and, let's be real, that countdown is as much for me as them!

2) Yesterday was the international food fest for the fourth graders.  Um, I will volunteer for this every single year.  THERE WERE TAMALES!  It was seriously some good, good food.  My favorites (other than the tamales) being the packzi, beignets, and a Pakistani dish that like a mini fried veggie pie?  I don't know how to describe it but it was really good.

Since I had two fourth graders - and two different cultures - I made Guatemalan rice for the Girl Child and German potato salad for J.  The rice was a huge hit . . . the potato salad, not so much.  Though I did have one teacher ask me for the recipe!


3) Today is FIELD DAY!  At the kids' old school, field "day" consisted of 45 minutes of activities.  All the eye rolls.  They're super pumped to have a half day this year -- and it's only a half day because of construction going on.  Next year will be back to a full day event.

4) Hands down, my favorite thing about Mother's Day is things like this:
 

I will keep this forever so that I can always remember - back in 2017 - my girl wouldn't trade me for a "neglis" (necklace.)

5) I got a wild hair during K1's birthday party - when it was too chilly to get in the pool - and decided to let the kids have a "Last Day Luau," a swim party on the last day of school.  I sat there yesterday filling out invitations and got a bit of a panicky feeling -- I'm letting the older kids invite five friends each plus we'll invite the neighbor kids and Kendra and Cady's girls.  What have I gotten myself into?!?  Hopefully  just a whole lot of fun!

6) Saw this cute bathing suit on the Wish app a few weeks ago and could not resist.
 

I mean, isn't that the cutest?  It came with the headband.  I think I paid $1.80 with $3 shipping. 

7) Addiction Alert: if you are addicted to Boom Chicka Pop, Sam's currently has the big bags at buy one get one free.  So you get two HUGE bags for just $6!  We go through that stuff like woah in this house.

8) The girls came over the other day and we laid out and did a little bit of day drinking (with no day buzz to accompany) and . . . I got my first sunburn of the season.  As did Cady and Kendra.  The good news in this as that I didn't break out.  The bad news is that my back felt like it was on FIRE.  I also told Mark that I don't peel so, of course, that means I'll end up peeling.

9) Tomorrow is my birthday.  I feel like it completely snuck up on me this year! 

10) This, this, this, this, thisssssssssssssssssss.
 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Baseball.


So here's one of those real talk confessions: my oldest boy was signed up for baseball because I was in the thick of fall semester finals during basketball sign up and totally missed the deadline.  Baseball was a way to make it up to him.  My younger boy was signed up as well as a reward for making straight A's.
 
I did not realize the kind of commitment I was looking at.
 
I'm from a very baseball-centric town.  In my hometown, things revolve around being at the ballfields.  I'm Facebook friends with people who I went to high school whose lives literally stop every spring when ball season starts.  And if their kiddo makes a traveling team? Forget about it.  It's all spring and summer, several nights a week, all weekend long, and many a late night.
 
I'm not cut out for it.  I'm just not.
 
This season of baseball has been . . . interesting.
 

Part of me wishes the boys had played organized ball earlier.  They're both having fun and they're both pretty good at it.  They're learning the fundamentals and they get a little better with every game.  I was watching J play last night and thought, "wow, if I had put him in T-ball, he'd be on a competitive team right now." 

There's another part of me, though, that's glad I've let them come into their own and pick the sport they want to excel in.  For J it's basketball (though he's still going to do tackle football in the fall) and K1 is obsessed with football.  They've each picked the sport they want to pursue and now we're at a point where they can really say they have tried everything.  And I'm so relieved they're not so like so many of the boys (and girls!) I went to school with who only played ball because their daddy pushed them.  I want passion, regardless of the sport they choose, not "have to" or family legend or whatever.  Passion.

Our baseball season is winding down.  K1 has three games left, one of which he'll have to miss due to a prior commitment.  J's tournament starts tomorrow and, bless their hearts, I'm not sure they'll make it through the first round.  K1's team has one every single game they've played; they even scored 19 runs in their last game!  Poor J's team, though, they have struggled all season long, they've had heartbreakers, and they've yet to win.

It's been so fun - and, honestly, a real blessing - to see how much my boys have grown this baseball season.  I'm not necessarily talking about skills either.  I mean, duh, I love seeing their skills grow.  I'm mostly talking about J here and I'm talking about how his sportsmanship has grown.  Their game Tuesday night is an example of this.  They lost by just one run, their second game in a row that was a bit of a heartbreaker.  And J wasn't even angry.  He was proud of the out he got at first and so, so proud of his work toward forcing an out at home.  After the game he was all, "mom, did you see that out???  Wasn't that awesome?!" rather than focusing on the fact that they lost the game.  Progress, progress, so much progress.

Both boys have really progressed in their skills.  They're decent little hitters and they've grown so much when it comes to fielding and just learning the basics of the game.  I'm so proud of them!

All that said, I am so ready for the season to be over.  So ready.  And I'm also so glad that they've (probably) settled on fall and winter sports.  Spring sports are hard!  I feel like this time of year the school commitments are even busier than the holidays and throwing a sport in there?  Ahhhhh!  For example, our schedule this week:

Monday - K1 baseball
Tuesday - K1 and Girlchild late practice for school program, J football game, K2 perform at PTA meeting (we had to drop the PTA meeting to make the other stuff work -- and dropped it because she'll be performing the same songs next Thursday at her kindergarten graduation.  This did not stop her from being pissed)
Wednesday - OH GLORIOUS DAY, NO AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITIES soooo, of course, we invite friends over for dinner
Thursday - Field day at school (important to point out because they're going to be exhausted), after school club for Girl Child, K1 and Girl Child school performance at 6:30, K1 baseball game at 7:15, J baseball tournament 7:15

It's Thursday that kind of kills me.  K1 will have to miss his baseball game and Mark and I will have to divide and conquer.  I'm going to miss their performance and it breaks my heart a little bit but J can't miss his tournament.

One final thing about baseball:

I can't step on the fields without thinking about Morgan Nick.  She was a six-year-old girl who was abducted from a ballfield in Alma, Arkansas, back in 1995.  I was 15 at the time and I remember so vividly and, swear to Jesus, when I die and go to Heaven one of the first things I'll ask is "What happened to Morgan Nick?"  Anyway, K2 LOVES to go to games with me.  She loves to run around and play with her ballpark friends.  And, it never fails, I get a little panicky when I lose sight of her.  Just yesterday, she and two other girls turned a small piece of playground equipment into a "clubhouse."  K2 was sandwiched in the middle so I couldn't see her easily and I got up to look for her thinking, "MorganNick, MorganNick, MorganNick."  I'm pretty sure anyone around my age who grew up in Arkansas feels the same way.  The ballpark shouldn't be scary . . .  but it kinda is.  That said, the other kids do LOVE being there and running and playing with the other siblings.  So I have to tell my anxiety to hush and let them play and be.

So that's been our first year with baseball!

I'm so glad it's (almost!) over.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

People Let Me Tell Ya Bout My Weeeeeekend

I had an amazing Mother's Day weekend!
 
I love when Mother's Day falls late.  My birthday is Friday so it feels like a whole of, ya know, celebrating ME.  Ha! 
 
Friday night, we kicked the weekend off with dinner at Celtic Crossing.  Russell's son was playing a double set.  So we got to support him, sit on a patio for dinner, and visit with friends.  It was a good time but, man, the service at Celtic Crossing was just so, so bad.  So bad.  I did have a grilled ham and cheese sandwich that was spectacular but that was mixed with a waiter who ACTUALLY ROLLED HIS EYES once when I tried to get his attention.  Hello, I have pre-teens. I get enough eye rolls in my own house.  I don't need them from you Mr. Waiter Man.
 
Saturday, we had a kid-free few hours and decided to spend those downtown.  Anthony had a hometown friend visiting and they were headed to Jerry Lawler's.  We decided to meet them there.
 
So, growing up the boys - and the PawPaw! - in my family were all about the wrasslin.'  It was on TV all the time, my cousins had all the little wrestling figures.  It was a big deal.  Jerry Lawler is a former wrestler and his restaurant is completely dedicated to all things wrasslin'.  The menfolk in my family would've loved it.
 
We even got to meet The King himself.  He spent a good hour and a half, walking around and talking to patrons.  Awesome for his business!
 
 
Saturday evening was spent at Russell and Kathy's.  They put together a birthday party for one of their friends.  Mark grilled and we just hung out.  The weather was AMAZING.  I'm so glad it's summertime in our part of the world.
 
Sunday morning . . . oh glorious Sunday morning where I slept in until nearly 10:00.  (If I'm being honest, though, I do this MOST Sunday mornings.)  It was still nice though.  Mark made a breakfast casserole for our brunch and my kiddos came home just as it was coming out of the oven.  And they had donuts in hand!  So Mark and I had breakfast casserole and everyone else had donuts with sprinkles. 
 
I thought I would interject this here -- my ex-husband and I try to co-parent in a way that benefits the kids.  Honestly, sometimes it's REALLY hard.  Like, really, really hard.  And we just have to keep in mind we're doing what's best for our children.  Anyway, Mother's Day the kids came in with the donuts, a card, and a balloon.  I thought it was very nice of him to make sure they had gifts for me.
 
And speaking of gifts . . .
 
!!!!!!!
 
My Mother's Day gift was an instant pot!  It was actually supposed to be a birthday gift but was delivered in a box that clearly said "instant pot."  Since I knew what I was getting, Mark made it a Mother's Day gift.  I can't wait to use it!  I know there's  a learning curve but I hope once I get it down that it's something we use all the time.
 
We thought it would be fun to spend Mother's Day at the ballpark.  So after brunch, we all got ready to go see the Redbirds play.


They had a t-shirt making station as soon as we walked into the ballpark so the kiddos got busy.
 

 

We like to sit on the bluff because it's prime position for fly balls and the kids can run around and play.  Shortly after we got there and got situated, Rocky the Redbird came by.
 

' Bout those fly balls . . .


This kid caught TWO.  He kept one and gave the other one away.
 
And the second highlight of the day was seeing themselves on the jumbotron.  Day made for little boys!
 

The Redbirds ended up winning the game by one and the kids were able to run the bases after the game.  We came home and finished the evening poolside.
 

Mark volunteered to grill steaks but I was just hot and couldn't even think about eating something hot.  I requested chicken salad so he threw it together and we had a late dinner.

It was such a great day! I love that I get to be mom to these kiddos and love celebrating motherhood.







Monday, May 15, 2017

Nicholas Sparks: Two by Two

Nicholas Sparks is, you know, Nicholas Sparks.  His writing is a little cheesy and campy and you pretty much know when you start reading one of his novels that you're going to shake your head and think, "no guy is really like this" at least 238203482 times.  Because, seriously.  NO GUY is like the guys in Nicholas Sparks books.  And I say this as the current girlfriend of a certified Really Great Guy.

Anyway.  Goodreads sends me an email everyday to let me know the deals out in cyberland . . . what can I download at a good price?  A few weeks ago it was Two by Two at the bargain price of just $1.99.  Written by Sparks?  I'm in!  I purchased and it became my gym read. 

And . . . I don't know where to begin.  The thing is, Nicholas Sparks will always be the amazing love storyteller behind such works as Message in a Bottle and The Wedding (side note: I know everyone loves to bring up The Notebook.  But when it comes to the actual BOOKS, The Wedding is heads and shoulders and knees and toes and errrrraythang else above The Notebook.)  He is NICHOLAS SPARKS and if a good sappy love story is your bag, baby, then you shouldn't have a cross word to say about him.

Until you read Two by Two.

Sparks tries something different in this novel.  Rather than telling the story of two people falling love, it's the story of two people falling apart. 

The story begins with a young couple - Russ and Vivian Green - anticipating the birth of their first child. They have a girl named London and both are absolutely smitten by her, adoring her.  Vivian quits her job to be a stay-at-home-mom and Russ, raised lower middle class, continues a job in the advertising field while worrying about savings and just providing for the future of his family.  When it's basically glaringly obvious that he's going to lose his job, Russ decides to strike out on his own and open an advertising agency.  Vivian resents him for this and soon goes back to work herself.  She travels often during the week, thrusting Russ into the role of single dad.  His relationship with London strengthens as his with Vivian deteriorates. 

So this book is just . . . too long.  It's almost as though our guy Nick was given a "must have __x__" pages assignment and didn't want to use 18-point Times New Roman font so he added in a ton of unnecessary-ness.  I found myself glossing over several paragraphs because, well, how boring can you be?  It seriously took forever for Vivian to finally leave Russ.  I KNEW THAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN BY PAGE TEN.  Why did you drag it out foreeeeeeeeeevvvvvverrrrr, Nick Sparks?  Why?

Then there's the issue with the actual characters.  Russ is a wimp and Vivian is a bitch.  Russ has endearing qualities because he's a good dad and adores his daughter.  And while Vivian is also besotted with her daughter, she totally comes off as a C-U-Next-Tuesday for pretty much the entire book.  The character of London is adorable and I will say I feel like Sparks really nailed the daddy/ young daughter relationship save one thing: we never see Russ get annoyed and lash out with London and, y'all.  No.  That's not real life.  Here's my biggest issue with the characters (and, if we're being honest, the whole damn book): Russ has a sister. She's great and she's funny and she's probably the best character in the whole book.  And her name is Marge.  MARGE!!!!!  A book that ends in 2016 and you have a not-quite-40-year-old woman named MARGE?!?  WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?  Name her Lisa or Lori or Kelly or Stacy or any other "born in the mid-70's" names.  But MARGE?  It was a distraction but, then, I can fully admit to being biased about names and getting pissed off when they're weird/ out there/ don't make sense/ don't flow with a sibling name.

Another thing with this book is that it's Nicholas Sparks so you know there's going to be tragedy.  And there is.  And it did bring a tear to my eye.  But it was SO OBVIOUS who was going to befall on tragedy.  Super obvious, too obvious.

I also need to point out that the ending was way rushed and . . . not realistic.  Sparks spends page upon page upon PAGE lashing out the deterioration of Russ and Vivian's relationship but a nasty custody battle is summed up nicely in an epilogue.   Ummm . . .


(Very interesting, too, considering Sparks himself is divorced.  Maybe his was all tidied up nicely in an epilogue and he doesn't find himself routinely wanting to stick pins in a voodoo doll . . . )

So to summarize.

This book is far, far, FAR from being a Nicholas Sparks classic.  It was easy enough to read and I did want to finish.  But it was predictable and the whole story just fell flat.  If they make this one into a movie then Hollywood is just desperate.  #GiveMeNoah

Friday, May 12, 2017

Foodie Friday: Mom's Kitchen

The latest issue of Southern Living features several of their editors talking about their mothers and the food produced in their childhood kitchens.  It was a really touching feature and really spoke to me. 

Food was - and is - central in every gathering in my family.  Holiday tables loaded with so much food that desserts were given a room of their own.  All you can eat catfish when my PawPaw had a good sell.  A fish fry or a barbecue on the Fourth.  Food.  It really does bring us all together.

There were many women in my life growing up -- my mom, grandmothers, aunts, friends of my parents, parents of my friends.  But four stand out to me the most: my mother, both my grandmothers, and my great grandmother.  And, today, I'm going to borrow a page from Southern Living and tell you a little about the foods they produced in the kitchens I grew up in.

My dad's mom, we called her Ma, was the one of these four women I spent the least amount of time with.  But it was very easy to think of the dishes that defined her.  She was a very vain woman and will probably turn over in her grave knowing I typed this but she was the type of woman who ordered in Thanksgiving dinner.  Meaning: "HEB cooks everything for you so I just went that route!"  She made me a chocolate pie every Thanksgiving or Christmas but even that isn't want I think of when my mind goes to her.  I think of two meals: scrambled eggs and grilled cheese/ tomato soup.  Her scrambled eggs were simply the best.  I've never had any other like them in my life.  So light and fluffy and so, so good.  I loved her scrambled eggs.

And she is also the one I think of when my mind wanders to grilled cheese and tomato soup. She and my grandfather owned a ceramic store (The Wishing Well) when I was young and I can remember being at their shop -- which also held an apartment -- and eating grilled cheese and tomato soup even if it wasn't snowing.  Ma wasn't much of a cook but she did know how to fix a mean grilled cheese!

Then there's my Granny.  She was a central figure in my formative years.  We probably saw her every single day - or close to it! - while I was growing up.  She was a tiny little lady, barely 5'0 tall if that and no more than 90 pounds soaking wet.   And she put lard in everything she made. Hand to heart, the woman made the best spaghetti and meatballs on the planet.  They were Chef Boyardee but she put a little bit of Jesus (LARD) in them and they were so good. 

That wasn't her signature dish, though, for she had so many of them.  Potato cakes.  Sugar cookies.  Fried pies.  Oscar potatoes (named after my cousin Storme's grandfather.)  Weenies and kraut.  BISCUITS.  My Granny's biscuits were, hands down, the best thing ever.  I would literally give anything - ANYTHING - to be able to taste one of those again.  They were amazing.

Then there are the two women who were in my life the most and this is where things get tricky.  Because there are the dishes they're both known for and the dishes I will always and forever remember them for.  And they're not the same.

For instance, Mawmaw makes the best banana pudding.  I love it.  My PawPaw loved it.  Also?  Her dirt cake.  I always loved it and she would mix it in a bucket from the dollar store and add in gummy worms and it was just so good and so cute.  Those are the things I should think of when I think of Mawmaw.

But I think of the farmer's breakfast she fixed my Pawpaw every morning.  Sausage and eggs and biscuits.  And how, once, when I was a senior in high school and told her I would make the biscuits for dinner and asked her where the can was and she looked like she wanted to beat me.

But what really makes me think "MawMaw" is cinnamon candy.

Cinnamon candy.

I was so sick in the hospital, just after I had J.  I was in CCU for several days then in a regular room, still not wanting to eat anything.  One day I mentioned I wanted cinnamon candy.  Mawmaw showed up and she showed up with CINNAMON CANDY.  Everything you could imagine.  Cinnamon disks and Fireballs and Hot Tamales and Red Hots and, oh my, all the cinnamon candy. 

Then there's my mom.  And there are so many things I should say.  My brother would say her ribs or blackberry pie (or is it cobbler?) or cheesecake.  So many people love her carrot cake.  And her Mexican lasagna.  And she revolutionized the way I cook canned green beans.

 But when I think of my mom and cooking, I think of one thing: "nachos."

You see, my dad was diagnosed with diabetes when I was in middle school and all fun eating went out the window.  Unless he was out of town.  And then we would have nachos.  My mom would make Rotel dip (Velveetta, rotel, can of nacho cheese soup, can of cheddar cheese soup.)  We would heat a can of Wolf band chili on the stove. And we would layer: chips, cheese dip, chili, shredded cheese.  And repeat.

And we loved it.

I STILL love it.

And it makes me realize . . . the recipes I sink so much time in to are not going to be what my children remember and what makes them think of me.

In fact, we had the conversation last week. 

"What's your favorite thing that I make?"

J - "Tatortot casserole!" (Got more than some Arkansassy in common with the Duggars!)
Girl Child - "Make our own pizza night!"
K1 - "Stromboli!"
K2- "Quesadillas with cheese!"

So who knows. Maybe one of these days my daughter will come home from college and I'll sprinkled shredded cheese on half a tortilla, fold it over, microwave it for 20 seconds and when I serve it to her with jarred salsa and she'll get the warm fuzzy feelings thinking "this came from my Mama's kitchen."

Cinnamon candy and dirt cake.

"Nachos"

The little things.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Thursday Things

1) A look at K1's birthday:

We started the day off with breakfast cinnamon rolls.  My kids request these every single year.


It's spirit week at school and Tuesday was twin day.  How do you get your big brother to dress the same as you?  Make sure twin day falls on your birthday!
 

Another birthday tradition is that I have lunch with them at school.  K1 and I and two of his friends enjoyed a nice - loud - lunch.  Seriously, third graders are SO LOUD.
 

J had a baseball game last night so we would down the birthday with a picnic at the ballfield.  Afterwards, it was home for catch and riding bikes a bit before settling down for the night.
 

2) Baseball.  Oh, baseball.  K1's game Monday night -- he had two singles, a double, an RBI, and forced an our while playing pitcher.  He's on a pretty good team and they won 16-15 to stay undefeated.  J is not having the same kind of luck with his team.  They're just really struggling.  However.  J got a hit the other night - a really good hit! - that advanced a runner to third, started a small rally, and J eventually scored a run.  It's the little things.

3) While I was at that baseball game Monday night, Mark was at FedEx Forum.  Seeing Joe Walsh and Tom Petty!  Not going to lie, I was a leeeeettle jealous.  He deserved it, though, and had a really great time.  He said Joe Walsh put on an awesome show, sang several Eagles songs, and Tom Petty played all his hits.  Nice!

4) Spirit week. 

Monday morning, I got a text from the school reminding me it was hat and flip flop day.  Then another -- oops, it's actually pajama day!  Okay.  Two of the kids chose to wear their jammies.  About 20 minutes after they got on the bus I had a text "oops again!  It actually really is hat and flip flop week."  So, yeah, cool story bro.  I sent two kids to school in pajamas when it wasn't PJ Day.

Yesterday was Wacky Tacky Day and these two were cracking.me.up.
 

5) It's my first full week off school and the kids are still in school.  I had visions in my head of laying by the pool.  Cocktails.  Books.  Instead, I've had a cold that's been kicking my butt.  So congested, nasty cough, and a sinus headache that ain't no joke.  And, of course, the weather has been absolutely beautiful.  Almost mocking me.  "Haha, sorry you can't come outside!"

6) So, I'm done with school for the semester (and year!) but I've decided to go ahead and take a summer class online.  I don't need it - I'm just going to take a poli sci class that isn't needed for my degree  - but it'll keep my momentum going.

7) Our president.  I . . . I don't understand why more people aren't upset with what's going on with health care.  Do people not realize how vital coverage is for pre-existing conditions?  How are people expected to, you know, LIVE?  It's very scary.

I won't even get into just how very Nixon-esque is it is to fire the FBI director that was, ya know, investigating Trump and his Russia ties . . .

8) My birthday is next week.  I had a dream about it the other night that we're going to chalk up to too many cold meds.  Basically, I invited every person that I went to high school with -- including some I never liked.  The party was black tie and my mom got us a piñata.  I'm turning 37.  Yeah, we're going to call that one what it is: lay off the Nyquil.

9) I've been on a book-buying frenzy lately trying to prep for a summer of reading by the pool.  So many books.  I hope to share my reading list next week.

10) Lord in Heaven, let the bottle flip thing never, EVER come back.
 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Let's Fiesta!

Last Friday night - Cinco de Mayo - we had a ninth birthday fiesta for K1!
 
It was so fun.  But also so exhausting.  And loud.  IT.WAS.SO.LOUD. 
 
I was pretty busy and didn't get a lot of pictures taken but wanted to share the few I did get.
 

We did a taco bar for our NFL fantasy draft party back last Labor Day weekend and it was such a hit that I knew we had to do it again for this party.  I made three types of taco meat: chicken, beef, and shrimp, and then we had all the fixins.  Once again, it was a huge hit.
 

We're not Mexican so I wanted to make sure I wasn't delving into any cultural appropriation when it came to decorations.  We ditched the cliché sombreros and mustaches and went with bright colors, papel picado, and cacti.  I thought everything turned out super cute and got a lot of compliments on the décor.


With so many eight/ nine/ ten year old boys I wanted everyone to eat outside!  We set up two tables and each had a bowl of chips and then salsa in plastic margarita glasses.


Party favors were little margarita glasses filled with candy.  They were so cute!

Now, pictures from the actual party!

We had planned to swim.  The invites included instructions to bring a suit and towel.  But we had a cold front blow through and it was just too cold to get in the pool (65 degrees outside with a pool temp of 69.)  I wasn't in the mood for giving any children pneumonia so we didn't swim.  There was some disappointment but I think we're going to have an end-of-the-school-year swim party/ luau to make up the swimming time.


With swimming off the table, the boys PLAYED.  Football, basketball, football again, more basketball.  Oh!  And K1's birthday present from us was a foosball table.  Which was a huge hit . . . with the over 18 crowd.  ;)
 


K1 requested a chocolate and strawberry cake -- which he got.  Two layers of chocolate, one of strawberry.  I made homemade strawberry frosting which is why the cake is pink.  I thought he would freak out or a kid or two would make fun of the pink cake but . . . I worried too much.  He loved it and the cake was delish.
 
Finally . . . you can't have a fiesta without a piñata!
 

K1 knocked it down and then the poor thing didn't stand a chance . . . they literally tore it apart to get to the candy inside!
 

He called it the best party he's ever had and I have to say it's one of the best we've thrown!  We had so much fun!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Nine!


We're celebrating a golden birthday today.  K1 is turning nine on the 9th!  Here are nine things about one of my very favorite people on the planet:
 
1) He is sports-obsessed.  Oh my goodness, is he obsessed.  He plays basketball every morning before school, there's an almost constant football game going in my front yard, and the only Xbox game he really plays is Madden.  He's also a walking encyclopedia of football knowledge -- which is probably why he and the Boy Child split the fantasy football jackpot last season, defeating grown men and winning their league.
 
 
2) He's a really good kid.  And I'm not just saying that because he's mine!  He really is just good.  Of course, he has his moments when the attitude is a little strong or he isn't as kind as he could be to one of his siblings.  But, for the most part, he's just really good and really easy, very understanding and compassionate.


3) The boy loves MEAT.  This kid is so skinny that you wouldn't believe the amount of steak, bacon, chicken wings, etc. he can put away.  Steak is definitely his favorite with bacon coming in a very close second.  He also loves his hot sauce.


4) He is very book smart.  He probably does the best in school out of all the kids, he's just a really good student.  For the past two years, he's had the biggest jump in AR level out of any kid in his grade!  It's important to me that my kids try their hardest in school and K1 really does for the most part.  He's always super disappointed when he brings home a not-so-great grade on an assignment.  I never want him to be too hard on himself but I DO want him to always strive to do better.


5) His only option for a future career?  He wants to play in the NFL.  There are no other options, just the NFL for this guy.  After playing college ball at Arkansas.  Naturally.
 

6) He has always been a cuddle but and - thankfully - he still is.  I know these days are fleeting.  We've already reached the point where he'll slip his hand in mine in public, realize what he's doing and let go.  But the boy loves to cuddle.
 

7) So, K1 can be kind of . . . oblivious.  One of his teachers told me once he's the "absent minded professor" type and that's the BEST way to describe him.  He's smart as a whip but he's also the type that will walk into a door or something (he get it from his Mama.)  In our house, we have what we call the "K1 Duh Award" that's generally either handed out to him or the Boy Child.  All in good fun!
 

8) K1 puts his WHOLE HEART into whatever he's doing.  Whether it's on the basketball court, the baseball field, or just a game of Madden football.  He is all heart.  He tries so hard.  And he is very passionate both when he wins and win he loses. 
 

9) I often think that if his dad and I did anything right it's that we made this kid.  He has a heart of gold and he's such a joy and brings so much joy to others.  I can't believe my grumpy old man toddler has turned into this fun and funny, amazing kid.
 

My baby boy!  Happy Birthday Kyker-Roony Man!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Jane Green: Another Piece of My Heart

I picked up this book at the Friends of the Library sale a few weeks ago.  Started reading it on a Friday night and stayed up late to finish it Saturday night.  I was really into it.

The story centers around Andi, a woman who always wanted a husband and family.  She didn't meet the man of her dreams, Ethan, until she was in her late 30's.  They wed and together raise his daughters Emily and Sophia.  Sophia is a dream stepchild while Emily is a straight up bitch (I can call her this; she's a teen in the book) whose goal in life is to break up Andi and Ethan.  Even at 17-years-old, she throws epic tantrums with screaming and carrying on.  The book finds us a few years into Andi and Ethan's marriage and Andi isn't sure how much more she can take of Emily.

The first part of the book is written to completely center around Andi and her point of view.  The second part, though, takes on the storylines of the other characters.  Emily's is written in first person so you get a more in depth look at the character and her brokenness.  You also get a feel for Emily's birth mother which is very well needed.

This book was very personal for me.  I'm doing the whole blended family thing and, y'all, sometimes it's just so hard.  Think about it: if you're a stepparent or a stepchild, it's because something else, another relationship, is broken.  That can be REALLY hard for a child to understand and accept. Blended families are commonplace now days but that doesn't make it any easier if you find yourself in one!

I won't go into specifics of my situation - it's not just my story to tell - but I will say that reading Another Piece of My Heart was both terrifying and filled me with gratitude that I'm not living with the level of volatile this fictional character lived with!

Honestly, I enjoyed this book because it spoke to me on a very personal level.  If you've never been a step-parent then it's probably not going to resonate as much with you.  But for me -- it hit.  And it hit hard.   It gave me things to be thankful for and things to think about, all with an enjoyable enough plotline.  What more can you ask for?

I will say that at times the story is disjoined and it almost seems like the proofreading was at a minimum.  And I didn't necessarily care for Ethan (#douche.)  Overall, though, I REALLY enjoyed this book.  I especially appreciated the way Andi and Emily's relationship was portrayed as Emily became a mature adult and it gave me so much hope, even though this was fiction. 

Definitely recommend this one even though I also understand if you can't get into it because you've never been in a "step" postion.

Monday, May 1, 2017

We Don't Bluff (Until We Do)

It's finals week for me.  We have three baseball games (so long as they're not rained out) and we also have K1's birthday party this weekend.  I'm trying to keep my stress in check and not go crazy.  This will likely be my only post this week but I did want to write about our weekend.
 
Cause it was pretty great.
 
Thursday was a huge day for our football-loving family . . . the NFL draft!  I made big-ish plans for a draft party but then the Grizz ended up playing Thursday night.  So Cady and I left these two with all the kiddos and made our way to Beale Street.
 
 
We started things off with dinner at Pig on Beale.  We shared an order of hot legs and onion rings and each had a Big Ass Beer.  Then it was on to FedEx Forum for GAME SIX, BABY! 
 
I can't believe it, but this is the only pic I took the whole night (rather than via Instagram stories and I was a big dummy and didn't save any of those.)  Blah.


It's not even a pic of any of the players.  It's Jerry Lawler, a Memphis wrestler, and some other wrestler.  Like . . . Dubs Tee Eff, Brandi?!?
 
The game was fun and Memphis fought hard.  But, in the end, San Antonio was just too much.  We lost, series and season are now over.  Our growl towels for the game said "We Don't Bluff" but apparently we did for that game?
 
The game didn't even start until 8:30 and . . . *yawn.*  That's way too late for this old lady.  I didn't get home until 1 am!
 
Friday was a special day at the kids' school.  They were granting a wish to a five-year-old girl with cancer to go to Disney World.  They were supposed to dress as their favorite Disney characters for the assembly.
 

Saturday we finally had baseball games!  We haven't had a weekend game yet because of rain.  All the rain.  And, for this reason,  both boys contend it's "stupid" to play baseball during the spring when it's rainy season in Memphis.  Sorry guys.

 
K1 has had the good fortune of landing on a very good basketball team (they went undefeated) and now on a very good baseball team.  They're 2-0 and have some pretty good little players on their team.  K1 is surprising me with his natural talent.  He's getting hits and can field the ball like a boss.  I want to think we've found his calling but his heart is with football and basketball.  He's still enjoyed this season of baseball thus far though.
 
We did a "divide and conquer" with the kiddos on Saturday due to their activities so I took the boys and Mark took the girls.  We had some time between games and could have run home (about a 20 minute drive) but decided instead to have lunch and run some errands.  We ate at Huey's . . . first time ever for J and K1 and I think it's safe to say they're now in love!


J isn't as lucky with teams as K1 has been.  His team is, um . . . interesting. 
 
They don't have a pitcher yet and, frankly, none of the kids are great at pitching.  They're decent at everything else but without good pitching . . . well, it ends up with discouraged kids and a lopsided score.
 

J did pitch on Saturday!  He tried his best and I was really proud of him for doing something where all eyes were on him.  Mark is going to help him get a little better at it.

We woke up Sunday to storms and rain.  So.much.rain.  So we did . . . what else?  Broke out the board games!


I found this Memphis-opoly game at Walmart and it's too cute.  The kids loved playing it because they know all of the places and so many of the streets.  J is decent at it and a master manipulator of the other kids.  However.  I owned him - them all, really - TWICE!  Mark said he and I needed to play a round and I told him there was a reason I liked playing with the kids!

I also introduced the kiddos to Clue and J declared it his new favorite game.  Love!
 
Something else also happened Sunday . . .
 

She lost her front tooth!  Wahhhh!  I love little baby tooth smiles and now we're going to have all Chicklet teeth in this house.

It was really a GREAT weekend.  Now I'm gonna go knock out these finals, get this birthday party pulled off, and spend next week relaxing and catching up on shows I've missed this semester!