Thursday, April 27, 2017

Thursday Things

1) Mark had to travel this week -- he left for Fort Dodge Monday morning and got back in early this morning.  I knew balancing everything would be . . . interesting . . . but, man, Monday was a DAY.  For starters, I woke up to realize our laundry room fridge had gone out.  This was seriously within the first HOUR of him being gone.  Ha!  Weirdly, it's working now. But playing fridge Tetris wasn't high on my idea of fun for a Monday morning.  That afternoon, we had the dentist, tutoring, and a baseball game . . . and had to get everyone fed and blah, blah, blah.  We didn't get home until well after 9:00 and I was ready to collapse.
2) This is K1's first ever year of playing baseball.  He had his first game Monday night.  And guess what?  He got a hit on his very first pitch!  I was so proud of him!

3) Best Boyfriend Ever Alert:  The Grizzlies are at home again tonight.  Mark's co-worker offered him two tickets at a steep discount.  We couldn't get a sitter so . . . he's giving me the tickets and Cady and I are going to the game tonight.  YAY!
4) I don't think he minded too much giving the tickets away because . . . it's draft night!  (And I'm actually a little bummed I'll be missing the first round.) 
5) The latest issue of Southern Living has people sharing Mother's Day stories, all related to cooking.  I read this yesterday and had to take a picture of the quote:

My mom knows better.  She has a recipe she can pull together in her sleep, so she can be a more promiscuous giver. 

I love it!  I grew up on casseroles and "funeral" food and bringing a dish that had some form of "cream of crap" soup in it was the standard whether grieving or celebrating.  Casseroles get frowned upon a lot but they really are easy and yummy and do allow us to be more promiscuous in our giving and sharing with others.

6) Shopping Head's Up: Target has 20% off bras in their Cartwheel app.  I love their Maidenform bras and I was able to snag a couple yesterday at a discount.

7) Over the weekend, we did a big closet purge and got rid of a lot of clothes.  K2 has had this dress since she was two.  TWO.  She loved it so much, choosing to wear it over pretty much anything else.  It's been a dress and now a shirt and, finally, she decided to say goodbye to it.  It's actually a little bittersweet to me.  My girl is growing up.

During the great clean out, we also discovered that K1 is too skinny even for skinny jeans. 

8) Reason #198230183 I love my kids school: tomorrow they are dressing up as Disney characters for a school assembly.  Why?  Because they are granting a wish to send a five-year-old girl with cancer to Disneyworld.  The child has no idea, it's going to be a complete surprise.  I love it!  I love our school!

9) Next week I have three finals and then I AM DONE with the semester.  Yay!  On the one hand, it's gone by really fast.  On the other, I'm just so over it.  I'm done.  I'm ready for summer.  I'm ready for relaxation.  I'm ready for the break.  (Although I'm about 95% sure I'm going to take an online summer class to stay in the groove.  Who knows.)

10) Accurate.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Tracey Garvis Graves: Covet

I read On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves a few years ago and that one book was all I needed to fall in love with the author.  So when I discovered Covet in the clearance bin at Barnes and Noble, I had to pick it up!

Covet tells the story of Chris and Claire Carpenter, a couple who lives a nearly idyllic life until Chris loses his job and is unemployed for over a year.  During his employment, he grows depressed and begins to push Claire away.  He finds new employment but is forced to travel and Claire finds herself in the position of solo parenting.  It leads to quiet resentment.  And then Daniel saunters into Claire's life when he, a police officer, pulls her over for a broken tail light.  Claire and Daniel strike up a friendship that could, if she takes the plunge, ruin Claire's marriage.

The book is written entirely in first person, mostly from Claire's point of view but we also hear from Chris and Daniel.  I really liked this aspect: it would be easy to vilify either man.  Chris for "abandoning" his family and Daniel for entering a complicated friendship with a married woman.  If nothing else, Graves gives a very balanced look of all characters.  Claire is hardly a martyr and neither man is a villain. 

I also think that Graves paints perfectly just how easy it can be for a person to fall into an emotional affair.  Or, really, anything as an emotional outlet in a relationship where they feel devalued or not wanted.  When I was in that kind of relationship I threw myself into exercise and working out.  It was my obsession.  In the book, Claire turns to Daniel. 

One thing I didn't care too much about the book is how she delves into the issues Claire's neighbors are facing.  I think it was probably intended as a whole "everyone has their issues" thing but it took away from the basic storyline.  I can also see how people might find the overall story boring but, man, it's just real life.  Also, the ended is a little rushed and I think Graves could've done better with that.  Perhaps cut out all the "everybody else's issues" side stories and padded the ending a little more.

All in all, I definitely enjoyed this book.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Take That for Data

It's playoff basketball time in Memphis, Tennessee! 
For the seventh consecutive year, our Grizzlies have made the NBA playoffs.  So there's a lot of #BelieveMemphis and Grit and Grind hype in the city right now.  And, if you follow NBA basketball at all, then you probably know that Coach Fizdale went OFF on the refs after one of last week's games and coined the now Memphis-famous phrases: "Take that for data!" and "They're not gonna rook us!"  It's a pretty fun time to live in Memphis.
Of course, we had to head to game four on Saturday night!
** You'll notice a kid missing from the pics.  He was grounded and, I'm not going to lie, parenting SUCKS when you have to take something like this away from a kid who would love it.  But he has to learn.
As soon as we walked into FedEx Forum, K1 made his way over the window that overlooks the broadcasting booth to try to get on TV.  If only we'd remembered to record the pregame!

The kids all made Go Grizz signs . . . I didn't have the heart to tell K2 her G's were backward because she was so happy she spelled everything by herself.

Playoff games almost always mean Growl Towels on every seat.  Grit.  Grind.  Represent.

Our seats were at the very top of the Forum.  The next day, Mark checked his Fitbit and I checked my phone -- we logged 16 flights of stairs!  Holy Moly, did I feel it walking every time I walked all the way up there to the top!

The Grizz started off a little slow and the refs were kind of awful.  I love watching but I'm horrible at spotting fouls and even I was like "WTF?"  So many missed calls and so many ticky-tack calls in favor of San Antonio.

The Grizz blew an eight point lead at the end of the game and ended up going into overtime.  Nervous, excited, nervous, nervous, nervous.  The Grindhouse was ROCKING.  I've been to several Grizz games and never seen one so electric.

In the end - Grizz won! - it was, hand down, the best NBA game I've ever seen.  Ever.  It was an awesome game and I'm so glad we decided to go.  The Grizzlies play again tonight and we're hoping they can pick up a win in San Antonio then come back and take the series at home Thursday!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Back to School at 36

The first time I went to college, Bill Clinton was president -- and the nation was deep in the throes of the Lewinsky scandal.  Friends was on TV, Armageddon was the must-see movie of the summer, and Britney Spears had just released "Baby One More Time."  The internet had only been around a short time and was available via dial-up only.  No one had laptops and more people had pagers than cell phones.  It was less than 20 years ago but feels like a lifetime!

Last August I slipped a backpack over my shoulders and took the plunge: I went back to school at age 36.  Ask me one word to describe going back to school at 36 and I'll tell you different.  I was going to say hard but the truth is just really, really, REALLY different.

The biggest difference is I'm a mom.  When I was 18, my only responsibilities were going to class and work and studying.  I really didn't even have bills outside of a credit card I was stupid for getting in the first place.  I did not have little people who depended on me.  I didn't have to cook dinner, oversee lunches being packed, get children off to school.  The only teachers I had to stay in contact with were my own.  I didn't have to worry about a third grade field trip falling on the same day as a final. 

Being a mom and being in school is hard.  And, honestly, I think it's harder because my kids are a little older.  I either stayed at home or had a flexible job the entire time they've been in school.  I was able to go to field days and on field trips.  And this year that hasn't always been the case.  I haven't been able to be there for everything.  The kids aren't always understanding.  Just last week we had a, "No fair! You always have class!" over me not being able to go on a field trip.  They're just old enough to lay the guilt on but still too young to realize I'm doing this to make all of our lives better.

Another major difference is technology.  In 1998, if a professor cancelled class there was a note on the door.  You still got up, got ready, made the trip to school . . . only to realize your class was cancelled.  Now professors can email or text to let you know class is cancelled.  And SO MUCH can be done online.  My professors put up powerpoints and podcasts of their lectures.  We can get participation points online.  This has made things so easy for me because.  I'd be failing given all the days I've missed with sick children.  I'm not because I can catch up with everything online.

There's also a big difference in the fact that I'm an, ahem, mature student.  I'm in a small program and pretty much classes with all the same people.  There's only one student in my classes who is older than me.  One!  I do feel old from time to time.  But I also get where the title mature student comes from.  I'm more focused.  I care more.  I don't blow things off.  And not that all 18-year-olds do, not at all, but there's just a confidence and maturity that comes with age that makes a difference.  At least with me!

I wanted to share a few things that have made this transition slightly easier for me --

1) This semester, I scheduled my classes so that I don't have to get up and ready at the same time as the kids.  They get on the bus and then I get ready.  I didn't do this the first semester and it felt like the mornings were so rushed.  This semester is different and it's easier on everybody.  And, seriously, we now have our morning routine down to a Science and the kids are usually fed, dressed, and ready to go in less than half an hour.  Miracles!

2) I still take notes!  Most of my classmates record lectures or rely on finding them online.  I can't do that.  I can't study a lecture; I need to study notes.  A friend who is also a "mature student" told me she thought most professors frowned upon note taking but that hasn't been an issue for me at all.

3) I have a supportive partner.  This is huge because there's no way I could do it without his help.  He cooks dinner several times a week.  He's taken a morning off work to go on a field trip. He's stayed home with a sick kid.  And he's just an encourager and very much the reason I'm able to do this.

4) I get my studying done when the kids aren't around.  I try to get as much as possible done before they even get home from school and sometimes I do end up having to work at night after they go to bed.  But when they get off the bus, I'm done (until bedtime if necessary.)  I'm really lucky, though, in that I have no Friday classes so I'm able to get A LOT done on Fridays.

5) I really, really hate this phrase but I give myself grace.  Blergh.  I feel #sobasic #superblessed just writing that.  But it's true.  Some nights we're going to have sandwiches for dinner and I'm not going to beat myself up over that.  My house could be cleaner during the week but, again, not beating myself up.  The list goes on and on. 

If I'm being completely honest, I wish I had just done things "right" the first time around.  Life would be so much easier if I had completed my degree before children and just the complications that come along with adulthood.  I'm proud of myself for what I'm doing now.  But I also wish I didn't have to do it.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Foodie Friday: Germantown Commissary

Memphis is known for it's pulled pork barbecue and you're not likely to find any resident without an opinion on the best in our city.  The Rendezvous!  Central!  One and Only!  Interstate!  You get the picture.  We're serious about our BBQ.  One restaurant that constantly comes up in the "best of" discussions is Germantown Commissary.  We finally tried it out a few weeks ago when Mark's mom was visiting.

First off, this place is tiny and parking is almost non-existent.  Be prepared to park across the street and walk.  No big deal, really, except keep in mind it sits on a road that intersects with Germantown High and if you're eating there when school gets out, don't expect to get out of the parking lot anytime soon!

We were visiting during Lent and they had a sign on the door that said they served a fried catfish platter on Fridays.  We were there for BBQ but knew we had to try that too!  In the end, we settled on the catfish platter as well as a sampler -- pulled pork, BBQ chicken, smoked sausage, and half a rack of ribs.  For sides, we had potato salad, baked beans, fries, hush puppies, and deviled eggs. 

Let's start with the meat.  The catfish was topnotch, awesome, some of the best I've ever had.  I feel there's a tiny bit of authority behind that statement. Because my entire life whenever my PawPaw had a good sell he would take us all, the whole family, to eat catfish.  I grew up on it and I know the good stuff.  This was the great stuff.  So good.  The pulled pork was good but definitely not Memphis best.  Same with the ribs.  The chicken was a little dry.  I loved the smoked sausage.  We all - Mark and I and his mom - agreed that the catfish was the best of the meat.

Now, sides are kind of my jam.  I was a little disappointed they didn't offer macaroni and cheese but they made up for it with HUSH PUPPIES.  They were super good too, as were the fries.  In fact, everything they fried was phenomenal.  The potato salad was pretty close to amazing.  The baked beans I could give or take.  But the deviled eggs.

I want to talk about the deviled eggs.

See, when I make them it's strictly mayo, mustard, egg, and a shake of paprika on top.  I know people do things differently but I like to keep them simple.  As soon as I bit into a Commissary egg, I made a face.  They put SWEET RELISH in them and it was overpowering.  Ewww.  Did not like.  Did not like at all.  The funny thing is, after we told Cady about our experience there, she revealed that she uses sweet relish in her deviled eggs.  What?!?  I love her deviled eggs and I never would've suspected!  I guess it's just the amount you use?  Who knows.  Regardless, I take back anything I might've said in the restaurant about having your southern card pulled if you put sweet relish in deviled eggs.

Finally, we finished the meal with homemade banana pudding and it was everything banana pudding is supposed to be.  Absolutely delicious.

All in all, we'll be back to Germantown Commissary.  We decided we both need to take our brothers on Mondays when they offer all you can eat ribs!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Easter 2017

Oh my. 
The last two days have been . . . something else.
It actually goes back to Friday evening.  The Girl Child got sick.  When I went up to her room, I noticed junk food wrappers (ugh.  Not allowed but also not something you address when the kid is sick!) and chalked the whole thing up to too much junk.  The rest of the weekend went along pretty great.  Then.  Sunday night/ early Monday morning.  Mark and K2 were both hit with it at the same time.  It hit me while I was taking care of K2.  By Monday morning, it hit K1.  The four of us were completely USELESS Monday.  My goodness.  It was so bad.  Parents shouldn't be sick at the same time as the kids!  Tuesday morning, it hit J.  I thought we were all over it by last night but Mark and K2 both got sick again in the early hours of the morning.  Jesus take the wheel.
Now that we've got that out of the way . . . WEEKEND! 
Good Friday, Mark went to pick up a lawn tractor he bought from a resale website.  It was almost brand new, we got it about half price, and we NEED this thing.  It came with a bagger which is a huge deal -- so tired of dealing with leaves and gumballs and just all the yard "ick" that goes with living in an area with a lot of trees.  I worked on cleaning out flower beds, made my first sun tea of the season, and just relaxed.
Russell and Kathy invited us over Saturday.  Russell's daughter recently moved to Los Angeles and was back in town for Easter.  She requested one thing: crawfish.
My boys were with their dad for the previous weekend's crawfish boil so they were VERY happy to be able to dig into some mudbugs.  K1's exact words: "I've waited all year for this!"

Then . . . swimming!  And, like, really swimming.  Not just jumping in the pool, saying it was too cold, and getting out.

The whole swimming thing was interesting because Cambo (the large white dog behind J) LOVES to swim.  He's bigger than all the kids and thought he was playing with them but, well, he plays a little rough.

We had a great time but had to get home so Mark could fire up the smoker.  And, well, because we had some eggs to dye!

Truth: I set my alarm for 4 a.m. Easter morning.  I didn't trust the kids to actually be asleep before I played Easter bunny and I was sure they would wake up before I did in the morning.  So I set my alarm, got up and Easter Bunny'd, then went back to bed until they woke us up.  At 6:30.  Yawn.

For this year's baskets, I did upside down baseball hats for the boys.  They each had a new Grizzlies shirt, candy, Goggles, and a few other small things.  The girls got a bag they can color, stuffed bunnies, mermaid pillows, goggles, candy, and other goodies.

Also truth: I went back to bed for another hour after digging into the baskets.  I was so tired and didn't want to be cranky all day!

After I woke up, it was time to get ready for our Easter dinner!  Mark smoked a ham and fried a turkey.

I took care of the fixings. We had potato casserole, corn dip, baked beans, a fruit tray, and Cady made her deviled eggs.  I also made a strawberry pie.

After we ate, it was time to swim!  I guess our pool is now officially open for the season??  We never closed it but it seems as though now it'll be used every weekend until school's out.  Then, you know, it'll be used like every hour.

And, finally, EASTER EGG HUNT!

Truth Yet Again: When I was a kid, you would always find eggs hidden in tail pipes of cars.  Tail pipes are different than they were in the 80's and I nearly lost an egg in the tail pipe of my car.  We rescued it but I officially won the family "Duh" award for the day.

It was such a great Easter!  The weather was wonderful, the kids were in good moods.  And, hey, we all got sick so none of the calories counted anyway!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Thursday Things

1) It's Thursday.  Easter is Sunday.  Ask me what I've bought for Easter baskets . . . sigh.  Do I REALLY have to do them?
2) Baseball games started this week and, well, the first game was pretty well disastrous.  J's team lost and lost BIG.  His team doesn't have a pitcher yet, these are all kids playing church league for just the first or second time, no one knows how to pitch.  The other team, however, had a really REALLY good pitcher.  Recipe for dee-sas-tour. 

3) We're at the home stretch of the school year.  I have two weeks until finals.  The kids have their big standardized test next week.  They get out the Friday before Memorial Day so the next month will be full of field days and field trips and all the fun end of the year stuff.  I'm glad I'm done on the 3rd so I can be up at the school as much as possible to have a hand in the fun!
4) Speaking of kids . . . mine have been complete and total turds this week.  I'm talking, conduct marks from their teachers. Allllll year long we've had E's for excellent and G's for good.  This week, two of them walk in with S's.  Satisfactory but BOTH kids got an S for being disrespecting a teacher.  Um, not just no but HELL NO.  They wrote apology letters but, my goodness, that is something that is so embarrassing.  My biggest goal in life is to not raise children who are disrespectful little snots.
5) I really do love this song:
6) The shooting in San Bernadino made me so sad this week.  For many obvious reasons but most of all that it took place in a special needs classroom.  I don't know why that's affected me so much but I can't help it.  Those poor babies.
7) HOW IS SEAN SPICER STILL EMPLOYED?  Of course, I'm talking about the whole "Hitler didn't use chemical weapons" thing and, ya know, calling CONCENTRATION CAMPS "Holocaust Centers."  What an asshole.
8) So Tom Petty is coming to Memphis.  Mark and I both really like him and the tickets are reasonable so please ask me why we're not going.  BECAUSE HE IS PLAYING ON A MONDAY NIGHT.  Tom Petty is old.  The people who appreciate his music are old.  How the heck is he going to plan a Monday night show for old people? 
9) The weather has been so lovely lately but I am ready for some HEAT.  We're ready to get in the pool!  The water temperature was 66 degrees last weekend . . . to which Mark said, "like Lake Michigan in the summertime."  I prefer the pool to feel like a bathtub though!
10) Yesssssssss.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Easter Grinch

I don't like Easter.

(I'm not talking about the religious aspect.  It's the most holy day of the year and I understand and appreciate that.  I'm talking about the commercialized Easter that we celebrate every year.)

I don't like it.

I don't like dyeing eggs -- it's so messy and the kids practically slam the eggs into those little plastic cups, cracking the eggs 90% of the time. 

I don't like the community egg hunts where children turn into wild little beasts, shoving other children out of the way to get the most plastic eggs.  I have a child who, inevitably, ends up with just one or two eggs because all someone has to do is give her the stink eye and she'll hand over anything she's collected.  One year, some little turd even took all the eggs out of one of my kid's baskets.  Yes!  Let's celebrate the resurrection by allowing our children to indulge in straight up assholery. 

I don't like doing baskets anymore.  They get expensive with so many kids and all except one are too old to even believe in the Easter Bunny. 

Oh, and no way will my kids go visit the Easter Bunny.  They're all creepy looking and one time, when I worked at the Temple Mall in Temple, Texas, the guy who was working with the Easter Bunny told me as I was walking by, "he really wants you to come sit on his lap."  Gross.  No.  One time I had a momentary lapse of judgement - I blame it on new parentitis, must have pictures of everything -- and took J for a picture with the Easter Bunny.  I need to apologize to him for that one.

Sorry J.

And, finally, I REALLY don't like going to church on Easter Sunday.  I realize that's an absolutely horrible thing to say and when Mark and I discussed this he said, "but Easter is the only day of the whole year they sing that "Up From the Grave He Arose" song!"  I know, I know.  But it's just SO crowded and so often becomes a fashion parade.  And, let's be honest, when I was a kid it meant scratchy dresses and the stupid bonnets with the elastic strap that boys would pop. 

I loved Easter when I was a kid.  We all went to my Granny and Grandad's house.  Lunch was a potluck.  There were always a ton of kids and so.many.eggs.  We knew the typical hiding places to look for the eggs but, inevitably, my Grandad would run over one while mowing the lawn the following summer.  After collecting eggs, we'd settle on the front porch and count and compare and eat hardboiled eggs.  I don't remember nary a plastic egg in that day.

1984-ish?  I'm the little one on the end

1989?  1990?  1991?  Whenever it was cool to rock acid washed jeans.

Things are different now that I have kids of my own and even more different considering I'm divorced and have to share holidays.  I do have the kids for Easter this year but it's their dad's weekend so they won't come home to me until late Saturday.  It makes no sense to travel to visit my family for a one day visit.  So we'll smoke a ham and fry a turkey.  I'll make potato salad and maybe a strawberry pie.  We'll invite friends over and the kids will hunt eggs.  I get that they're creating their own kind of memories and I know they'll have fun.  But it still makes me sad that they'll never know an Easter at Granny's house with eggs "hidden" on tailgates of trucks and so many cousins and the store bought fried chicken that always made it's way to the dinner table.  And maybe that's why I'm a bit of an Easter Grinch . . .

That and dyeing eggs.  I hate dyeing eggs.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

'Tis the Season. Crawfish Season.

Friday was kindergarten field trip day!  It was at a farm so pretty much the perfect field trip for my K2.  She told me she was going to pet the rabbits and ride a horse (not so likely on that last one, Little Bit . . . )  We were at the field trip mayyyyybe 15 minutes when my phone rang.
The school nurse.
Because WHY NOT?
After all, this woman has called me at least once a week SINCE THE END OF JANUARY.
It's never going to end.
Anyway, she told me that J fell during PE and hurt his wrist.  It wasn't swollen or anything but she couldn't rule out a fracture and I needed to come look at it.  Sigh
K2's teacher gave her the option of staying at the field trip or going with me.  She chose to go with me and then later regretted her decision.  Poor baby.  Anyway, we went to the school to look at J and I knew it wasn't fractured, just sprained, but the nurse . . . I guess she almost guilted me? . . . into checking him out.  So, no field trip and two kids to spend my Friday with.  And we ended up having a pretty great day!  We went to Target, PetSmart, and had lunch at their favorite place . . . Buffalo Wild Wings. 
A local library was having their Friends of the Library sale so we hightailed over there to fill a box for $15.  Sales like these and used book stores were such an integral part of my childhood but I think this was the first time my kids had been to one!  Oops!  We got several books and J found every kids almanac and world record book he could.  All of the kids love those type of books.
Both girls had tumbling Friday night and the kids went with their dad after K2's class.  After the Girl Child's class, she and I met Mark at El Toro Loco for dinner. 
Saturday we were childless so we headed to Russell and Kathy's for . . .


They boiled 100 pounds of crawfish along with the fixins.  Our first boil of the season and, mmmm, they were just so delicious.  Even though I broke my thumb nail on one of those little boogers. 

There ended up being probably 40 or so people over and we just had a blast visiting and enjoying the amazing spring time weather. 

Sunday morning I slept in and it was so glorious.  When I finally woke up, I went into the garage and realized Mark had built a table.  Like, I was sleeping and he was outside creating furniture.  Obviously, we know who the underachiever is in this relationship.  Anyway, we have to figure out if we're going to paint it and what all we're going to do to decorate it but I will show pictures when it's done done. 

We spent the rest of Sunday doing yard work and being lazy bums.  Best way to spend a Sunday!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Mary Kay Andrews: The Weekenders

I find that Mary Kay Andrews novels are either enjoyable enough or so bad that I can't even get through them.  I mean, I even left one of her books in Cancun back in December because it was just so bad.  And I don't get rid of books!  Ever!  I think her writing voice is so much better when she's not trying to paint a picture of stereotypical southern debutant types and their family money.

That said, I enjoyed The Weekenders even though lead character Riley Nolan Griggs was a southern debutant type with family money.  Ha! 

The Weekenders is the story of Riley Nolan Griggs.  It begins Memorial Day weekend when Riley and her daughter set out to meet her estranged husband, Wendell, at the ferry to take them to Belle Isle, an island community off the coast of the Carolinas that was founded by Riley's family.  Wendell never shows but, over the course of the ferry ride, a processor server shows up with a summons for Riley.  She assumes it's divorce papers but, once they finally make it to their home on Belle Isle, she realizes it's a foreclosure statement.  The locks on her home have been changed, she cannot get in, and Wendell is still nowhere to be found.  The next morning, a body is found floating and it happens to be . . . you guessed it . . . Wendell.  Over the course of the book, Riley deals with learning of Wendell's financial, tries to comfort her 12-year-old daughter, rekindles an old romance, and find out who killed Wendell.

The book is . . . it's enjoyable enough.  I didn't hate it and it's a good, quick beach read.  The character of Riley was somewhat annoying, her mother even more so, but her daughter was the absolute worst.  The character is painted as a straight up brat with very little redeeming qualities.  I actually hated the love interest angle . . . mainly because I wasn't a fan of that character ever.  (And ***SPOILER*** Riley went from "straight up hate this dude" to in bed with him in a matter of zero time.  So Harlequin-y.) 

That said.  I was invested in the story.  I wanted to know what Wendell did with the money.  I wanted to know who killed him.  And, even though I found her annoying, Riley was endearing enough for me to want good things to come her way.

If you're looking for a quick and easy beach read, then put this one on your list.  It's no Elin Hilderbrand beach book but it's entertaining enough. 

Friday, April 7, 2017


Is spring the busiest time of year?  Or is it the weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year?  Or maybe it's both?  I know every year around Christmas I'm thinking, "WE ARE SO BUSY" but then it happens again as we get to the end of the school year.  Birthdays, kids activities, and there's just always something going on.  My last final is May 3rd and I can't even begin to tell you just how much I CAN'T WAIT.  I'm considering taking an online summer class just to keep my momentum going.  But I won't be juggling that with kid stuff and everything else. 
Anyway, life has been pretty busy lately.  Both girls are taking tumbling classes, J and K1 are playing baseball, and Tuesday afternoon the Boy Child tried out for the middle school football team and made it!  We spent all day Wednesday celebrating someone turning the big SEVEN:
My kids always request cinnamon rolls (like, the refrigerated kind that take 15 minutes to bake) for their birthdays.  They were originally supposed to go with their dad Tuesday night/ Wednesday morning and I was really bummed they were going to miss the cinnamon roll tradition.  He changed days though and, whew, got to be with my baby on her birthday morning!


We try to make the birthday ALL ABOUT the person we're celebrating.  It's their day.  They choose breakfast and dinner (K2 wanted quesadillas), they control the TV (a leftover birthday perk from when I was a kid!), we try to do something special-ish with them (she went to Toys R Us to spend a birthday gift card.)  But the one thing they look forward to more than anything else is me having lunch at school with them.  Seriously, they love this.  Probably more because they're getting fast food rather than, ya know, having the pleasure of my company.  ;)  K2 eats lunch SO EARLY, though, that I actually had to bring her breakfast -- but she appreciated her CFA chicken minis. 

Mark took off Wednesday afternoon so, after my class, I was able to meet him for real lunch at East End (not gonna lie, I might have eaten one of those chicken minis with K2 earlier though!) then we did what all old people do on a random Wednesday off . . . went to Lowe's and bought stuff for the yard.  Fun stuff!

The fourth graders had their "big" field trip yesterday.  They woke up hyper OFF THE CHARTS and came in talking non-stop.  I guess maybe - MAYBE - it was worth the $36 price tag for them to be so happy.  Today is the kindergarten field trip and I'm tagging along to head to a farm.  Fun stuff!

That's a little look at what we've been up to lately.  This weekend we'll hopefully be heading to a crawfish boil -- that time of year again!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Seven for Seven

Today, my baby girl, my littlest lady, turns SEVEN!  *Insert I can't believe . . . it goes so fast . . . years are short . . . here*  Since she's turning seven, I thought I would share seven things about my girl. 

1) Even though she's seven, she's a very young seven.  And that's something I'm extremely thankful for!  She loves her toys: Barbies, Littlest Pet Shop, and Shopkins are her favorites.  She's still Frozen and Elsa obsessed and loves all things princesses.  She will play for hours and hours and hours on end and I am SO thankful she still loves her toys!  On the flip, however, she did ask for "high heels" for a birthday present.  So . . . yeah.  There's that.

2) She is a GIVER.  I truly think giving gifts is her love language.  She loves to send gifts to her teachers at school and people's birthdays are her very favorite.  She wants to wrap everything herself too.  She doesn't always give gifts that belong to her (she gave the boy child photo booth props from J's birthday party) or ones that make sense (Mark once got her size XS ducky slippers.)  But she loves, loves, loves to give.

3) She was my pickiest eater forever.  We called her a "carbiterian" because, basically, she thought she should be able to live off Goldfish and Goldfish alone.  Thankfully, she's starting to come out of that stage.  She can still be a total brat about food sometimes but, I mean, the child now eats carrots.  I don't even eat carrots!

4) She tells me she wants to "hang out" with me.  I don't know why but that just tickles me so much.  It's such a big girl phrase and I'm so glad that she still wants to hang out with ME.  She also says she's going to live in this house forever so she and I can "hang out."  Ha!

5) My super shy baby/ toddler/ preschooler has turned into . . . well, she's not a social butterfly by any means, it's not her personality.  She's very much an introvert.  But she's grown so much when it comes to interacting with other people.  Whenever we run into one of her classmates out and about, she'll always run up and say "hi" and talk to them.  That's not something that happened a couple years ago, she would've pretended not to see them.  During the Father/ Daughter dance in February, it was reported back to me that she spent a majority of the night socializing with her classmates.  She's tried two new sports in the past year: soccer and tumbling and she just tries so hard at both of them.  She's overcome SO MUCH of her shyness. 

6) She's always adored animals and still does.  Dogs are her favorite, followed by cats, horses, and dolphins.  She's even decided the Miami Dolphins are her favorite football team because . . . well . . . dolphins.  I could see her growing up to work in an animal shelter or fostering 3984294 dogs.  She, however, says she's going to drive an ice cream truck when she grows up.

7) She is so girly!  I was sure that coming after two boys, I'd have a tomboy on my hands.  But, nope.  This girl loves skirts and dresses, the more ruffles and frills the better.  I was so excited in Once Upon a Child the other day because I found a boutique style outfit that's hard to find as little girls get older and I knew K2 would love it.  Then I realized it was a size 4T in the wrong spot. Womp, womp.  But she loves boutique clothes, ruffles, tutus.  And lip gloss!  She has a recent obsession with blush, too, but lip gloss is her favorite.  She loves to wear bows and loves having her hair straightened.  She's recently started blow drying her own hair too.  Such a girly girl!

She's so precious to me, to our entire family.  She's our quirky little nugget and our days would be so much more dull without her around.  Happy Birthday beautiful girl!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Prank Party

My baby turns SEVEN tomorrow and we celebrated her on Saturday.  The only date available for her birthday party was April 1st and when she found that out, she decided she wanted a "prank party."  Um, okay?  It took a little Pinterest and a lot of creativity but I think we were able to pull off a pretty cool little April Fool's themed/ prank party.
We decided to decorate with things that are SILLY.  Because that's what April Fool's Day really is, right?  A whole lot of silly?  So I used posterboard to make silly faced emoji and jester hats to put on a couple of them.

Planning food to a party theme is probably my favorite thing ever.  I love it!  K2 requested macaroni and cheese, goldfish crackers, and carrots (so maybe our theme should've been orange?)  So we had those and then I added a few more things as well.

We had:
Sushi (I used fruit roll up strips to tether Swedish Fish to rice krispy treat squares)
Peas and Carrots (Skittles and Star Bursts)
Unicorn Poop

Prank Pineapple
Can't Fool Me Cucumber
Smiley Dip
Crazy Carrots
Goofy Guppies
Silly Sliders (chicken salad, peanut butter and jelly, and ham and cheese -- not pictured)
I decorated the table with disguise glasses and whoopee cushions and we also laid some plastic lizards and stuff around as well (because why not?!?)
And now for actual party pictures!

My friend Kira made her shirt.  Isn't it adorable?

Apologies for the wonky formatting -- the following picture didn't want to be in the post! 
I set my dining room up for a craft.  K2 wanted to paint but I nixed that real quick because a bunch of kids painting in my dining room pretty much sounds like a nightmare!  Instead, we put out yellow circles, googly eyes, stickers, and a bunch of sharpies.  The kids made their own silly faces.  It was a fun little way to get the party started.

After that, it was time to get . . . . BEANBOOZLED! 
I planned three games for this party (Beanboozled, Pie Face, and a balloon relay) and this was the only one that really happened.  Oh well.  The kids had fun and were a little grossed out.  Watching their faces and seeing their reactions . . . too funny.

After that game, we decided it was time to eat.  Luckily, it was a gorgeous day and some of us were able to sit outside.  (I was running out of room in the house!)

Then . . . PRESENTS!

Let me tell you a story about my girl.  She loves to make other people happy, loves to give gifts.  Well, it was her party and she was giving her friends each a turn at opening her presents!  It was the sweetest thing.  "Okay, Emmy, it's your turn.  Open this one."  And then, "Look, Karis!  Look what you got!"  Definitely a different way to do present opening!

After presents, we did cake and . . . well . . . this was the highlight for pretty much every adult in the house. 
The day before I baked one cake but decorated two.  I went to Walmart and bought a couple pieces of round craft Styrofoam, the kind you use for flower arrangements.  I stacked them together and frosted and decorated.  Voila!  Fake cake.  I also made a real cake and hid it in our garage refrigerator. 
When it came time for cake, we sang Happy Birthday then handed Karis a knife to cut into the cake.  She couldn't do it so her brother came to help.  He accidentally slid the first layer off the top and she still didn't realize it was a fake cake.  "J!  WHY DID YOU DO THAT TO MY CAKE?!?"  At that point, Jason walked in - dressed as a clown - with her real cake.  And all the adults yelled, "April Fool's!"  It was too funny.

We also put trick candles on the cake but only one of them worked.  Because, of course.

Last but not least, I had set up a little photo booth in our front entry way and snapped a picture of K2 and (most of) her younger guests.  Two had already left at this point and her brothers declined to do pretty much anything party related other than, you know, eat.


As the guests left, I gave them their goody bags.  The goody bags were the ONE THING I had perfectly planned in my mind from the moment the "prank party" idea was floated out there.

They each had disguise glasses, a whoopee cushion, emoji stickers, emoji tattoos, and candy.  They were tied and had a little felt stick-on mustache on the bag as well. 

I was so tired by the time it was all over but the party was so much fun and I know my girl had a BLAST!

A few other things:

1) I was a little worried we wouldn't have much of a turn out.  I mean, we have five kids in this house and when you add in Kendra and Cady's girls, that's seven.  That's a party there.  But I knew K2 wanted kids from school to come also and as of two days before the party, I'd only had one RSVP.  Eeek!  However.  Counting our five, we ended up having 12 kids (and that's not counting a big brother that disappeared upstairs to the land of Xbox with the other boys) and I think I counted 13 adults.  WOAH!  Much larger than I was anticipating!

2) I like to do parties at home for a variety of reasons but mostly because I have five kids and it's the cheapest way to do things.  K1 had his party at the skating rink last year and, yes, it was nice not to have to clean up.  But I think you can pack so much more in a party you do at home.  I guess everyone has their preference and this is mine. 

3) It's a good thing I love to throw parties because we get to do it all again in a month when we throw K1's ninth birthday fiesta!