Friday, June 30, 2017

Foodie Friday: Pensacola Beach EATS!

I had two goals for vacation . . .
 
1) Spend my days on the beach with a book and a cocktail
2) Eat all the seafood
 
Tropical Storm Cindy rained on option one (literally.)  But she didn't get in the way of option two at all.  All.The.Seafood.
 
On our first night, we decided to try Flounders.  Our neighbors have a condo in Pensacola - something we didn't know until after we booked! - and they recommended it.  Then we talked to a guy in a gas station on our way down who also said Flounders was a must.  So we made it our first stop.  And it did not disappoint!  Oh my!
 
We started things off with an order of calamari and it did.not.stand.a.chance.  The kids TORE into it.  I'm pretty sure J at least had it before, not sure about the rest of the kids, but it's definitely a new house favorite.
 
I was originally going to order the coconut shrimp (my favorite!) but Mark suggested the shrimp boat platter.  It had a shrimp cocktail (my second favorite!) and HUSH PUPPIES and it looked big enough that I could share with the kids.


Yeah, bout that.  I ended up with, like, 3/4 of the plate left!  Even sharing, it was so much food.  And it was all soooo good.  Just a plate full of deep fried deliciousness. 
 
So, Flounders is kind of . . . I mean, it's just touristy.  There's a playground and pier and the patio area is huge.  And, so, when we sat down we didn't have a ton of expectations for the food.  We thought we were eating at a tourist trap.  And I guess we were . . . but a tourist trap with GREAT food.  I also have to mention that our service was impeccable.  Our waiter was friendly, prompt, and only once let my beer go empty before replacing it with another.  ;)
 
The next night, we hit up Red Fish Blue Fish, mainly because I love me some Dr. Seuss.  So, most of these restaurants have a HUGE patio and then smaller indoor restaurant area.  Red Fish was the same way.  So even though there weren't a ton of people eating, no one could eat outside (THANKS CINDY) and we ended up having a small wait for our food.  It ended up being all good because they had giant games of Jenga and Connect Four for the kids.  And my man went and found me a drink in a bucket!
 
 
I loved it.  He declared it too sweet.
 
I went with one of my favorite foods on the planet for dinner this night -- a shrimp po' boy!

 
Ahhhhh . . . so good, come to Mama.  Stuffed with shrimp, covered in sauce.  It was REALLY good and my only disappointment was that I left the box with half of it on the table when we left the restaurant.  Wahhhh!  As with Flounders, our service was once again outstanding.  And, once again, the food was amazing . . . especially for a "tourist trap."
 
On our final night, we headed to Crabs We Got 'Em and, if I'm being honest, this was my least favorite meal of the trip.  And it was still really good so that tells you about the other two places!
 
Once again, we had a bit of a break.  So we found the playground - and also a giant parrot - and my man went to secure drinks from the bar.
 

All the restaurants we visited asked for a phone number when securing your table, then they text or call you when ready.  So, we got our text and made our way upstairs.  And there was an irate woman letting the hostess have it because of people being sat before them (I don't think she understood how the whole texting process worked??)  She looked around the restaurant and found the table where we were supposed to be seated and asked for that one.  I felt sorry for the hostess . . . no one wants to be in that situation . . . until she turned to me and said, "I'm sorry, but we texted the wrong number . . . "  Wait, what?  No.  I was very nice but firmly asked her, "did you text the wrong number or are you going to give the table to the person who is throwing the big fit?"  She didn't bother to answer, just turned away and found her manager.  We were seated - and at that table - but the whole situation was irritating.  Fortunately, we had an absolutely AMAZING server.  All our servers were great but this waitress was very much the best of the best, the kind of person who should be working in a vacation town.

We ordered calamari again for our appetizer and - while it was very good - it came out at the same time as our bread.  And, y'all, this wasn't any ordinary bread.  It was basically a beignet.  With honey to dip them in. Oh my.  Oh my, oh my.  They were so good! 

For my entrĂ©e, I went with chargrilled oysters and . . . I should've known better.  Like, I need a little angel on my shoulder to tell me, "never order chargrilled oysters outside of New Orleans."  They were good, had good flavor, but were a little salty.  And, I mean, they're much better in NOLA.  Luckily, none of the boys have ever been there before and they thoroughly enjoyed their first experience with chargrilled oysters.

I wasn't that crazy about my food but.  Mark ordered the ribeye with a shrimp skewer and he LOVED his meal.  If you've ever eaten at Ruth's Chris, you know they bring your steak - however you ordered it - on a 500* plate and it kinda keeps heating as you're eating.  So eventually your medium rare steak becomes just plain medium or even medium well.  Crabs, though, brought the steak out on a 500 degree plate and slightly undercooked so it continued cooking on the plate.  Much appreciated by those of us who prefer steaks undercooked as opposed to overdone!

All in all, it wasn't a bad place or anything -- I just thought the other two were a tiny bit better.

I'm going to recommend one more place -- Joe Patti's Seafood.  I found it on Yelp and Kathy told us we absolutely HAD to go (and bring her home some Grouper.)  It's a fresh seafood market and it's crazy busy -- even on a Thursday morning.  But they have every find of fresh fish you can imagine and the prices - THE PRICES!  They're amazing.  We bought Kathy's Grouper as well as whole shrimp and Mahi Mahi for ourselves and grilled everything for dinner Friday afternoon.  It was so good.  I'm definitely calling this place a "must" in Pensacola -- especially if you're not there during a tropical storm and want to cook your own fish (and, as a side note, Mark was going to take the four older kids deep sea fishing one day but again -- THANKS CINDY!)

Pensacola definitely has some amazing places to eat.  Thanks for the great seafood, Gulf Coast!  We'll be back!


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Thursday Things

1) Two weeks ago the Memphis Redbirds held a pretty cool event: all-inclusive night.  Every ticket was $20 and included unlimited burgers, dogs, fries, popcorn, nachos, and small drinks.  Awesome deal, right?  Right!  Except . . . HOLY LINES!  I missed two innings waiting on burgers!  It was a fun time, though, we always really enjoy our Redbirds games.



2) For Father's Day this year, we took Mark to brunch at a new-to-us place, Forest Hill Grill.  It was really good!  I had the crab cake benedict while Mark went with the steak benedict.  We'll definitely be back to try it again.  The rest of Father's Day was spent mainly in vacation prep, dealing with kids' bad attitudes (hey, it's your day, Dad!  Let's be total assholes!), then Russell, Kathy, and Curtis came over for lasagna for dinner.

3) Monday morning, the kiddos and I got up and headed to Mt. Vernon, Illinois.  We met Mark's sister-in-law and her kids there for lunch . . . and left the Girl Child with them.  She's spending about two weeks with them and she was PUMPED! 

 
I'm going to call him Little J, our nephew, he's the youngest of these three boys (there's actually one other boy cousin who is younger than him) and it's seriously so cute how he idolizes the older boys!  He had to have every single thing that J ordered . . . just the way J ordered it.  K1 is less than a year older him so not as much "hero worship" there but he's still a big fan of the boy!  And both my boys love him too!

4) Mark is away on business this week so it was just me, J, and the K's for a few days.  We can't remember the last time that happened and they were honestly pretty happy to have some three-on-one mom time, "like we used to."  They already miss the Girl Child though!  


5) Tuesday night we planned to go to the drive-in to see Cars 3.  A few weeks ago one of the kids told me, "Dad said he's going to take us to see Cars 3" and I probably yelled, "NO, HE CAN'T!" a little too loud and possibly scarred a child.  Cars was my boys' first ever favorite movie and Cars 2 was the first movie K1 saw in the theater and, well, Cars 3 is just special for me.  Gone are the days of asking for "Light Car" every three minutes but I still wanted to watch the movie and re-live those days!  ANYway.  Life and stuff.  All three kids - and I! - were just so, so tired.  We had to bench the idea of the movie -- one that didn't even start until 8:45!  Instead, we played "Beat the Parents" and went to bed early.  The movie will - hopefully - happen sometime this week.

6) I won't have J and the K's for Fourth this year.  Actually, we won't have ANY KIDS for the Fourth this year!  The first time that's happened for me since I've been a parent.  Anyway, since they're not going to be here for the Fourth, I decided yesterday would be a good time to do our special lunch.  We had firecracker dogs (with firework ketchup and mustard for dipping),strawberries and blueberries, and to drink . . . Coca Cola!  I mean, it doesn't get any more American than that, does it? 


7) Yesterday, my cousin and his family arrived in town!  We spent the evening at the pool and today we're going to the zoo.  It's so good to see them and spend time with them.  I love entertaining and love even more when it's family we don't see very often.  We stayed up way too late talking about life on "the hill" where we grew up.  Catching up is so, so, SO the very best!

These two are two months apart and I swear - as I have since they were babies! - they could pass for twins.  It's crazy to me how old they are now.  They went from these chunky monkey babies to BEING NEARLY ELEVEN YEARS OLD in, like, zero time.


8) So, I saw a click bait Facebook article the other day that may or may not have been the truth and now I must know.  Did Jay-Z and BeyoncĂ© really name their twins Sean Jr. and Bea?  Because, if so, I demand a refund.  Like, give those twins to George and Amal (all the heart eyes for Ella and Alexander . . . K2 would totally approve since she wants two kids named Ellie and Alex) for naming purposes or something.  Though, yeah yeah, pretty much anything is better than Blue Ivy.

9) For whatever crazy and irrational reason, I always feel like I have to put up a disclaimer before I post anything about Kelle Hampton.  Like, I know she's a little too much guys but I liked this about her!  Why is that?  Because she IS too much?  Who knows.  However.  This interview with her dad is a MUST READ.  I encourage everyone to read this post.  It was really beautiful and so many things her dad said really resonated with me, made me think of people in my life and how they may think.

 “I am who I’ve always been. What you loved about me yesterday was part of all you now know of me and want me to hide again.” -- Seriously!  Please read the linked post if you're Christian and suffering with your sexuality.

I loved it.  I loved the "real" behind it.  I love "this is the gay that the Lord hath made" because there are people in my life I can envision saying it.  Guys.  We still have a long, long way to go when it comes to equality.  But I love that my generation is paving the way.  (And, I mean, it is MY generation, right?!?  We're not giving those damn Millennials credit for this one are we?  IT BELONGS TO US!)

(( I also want to add that this post made me feel so sorry for Kelle.  I grew up in a family where we will cut a bitch if you do us wrong.  Ha, not really, we'll just "bless your heart" then try to pretend you never existed.  I can't even begin to imagine being taught and told to pray that my dad had AIDS.  How effing wrong.  How wrong.)
 
10) Not the man.  Not the man at all.  But these damn kids!  These kids!
 

(Also, I hate cats but I would own this one if it would look at my kids like this every time they back talked me!)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

One More Post About Our Vacation with Cindy



We woke up Tuesday morning to the sound of rain and wind.  Actually, we heard it all through the night and I knew it was going to be nasty before I even looked outside.  I was right.  However.  We were at the beach and there was no way the kids weren't going down there.
 

There was a red flag warning so we couldn't go more than ankle deep in the water . . . which really kind of sucked for the kids.  And we learned REAL QUICK that as soon as a toe hit the water, we were going to have an old person come over to lecture us about rip tides.  I understand and they just wanted to keep our kids safe but we weren't letting them out any further than their ankles and were watching them like hawks.  BELIEVE ME, keeping them from going out further in the water was harder than you'd think!  We bought boogie boards the day before and they were dying to "ride those killer waves."  Ha!
 

We spent a couple hours at the beach -- and not the beach experience I'd envisioned, with a cocktail in one hand and Elin Hilderbrand book in the other -- before making our way back to the condo to figure out what the heck we were going to do.  We found a box of games in the closet and did what all good parents do: taught our kids to play blackjack.  We used Mike and Ike's and Hot Tamales as poker chips and quickly learned that we need to take K2 to Vegas.  The girl was on fire!

 
I took this picture from our balcony -- they were out there feeding ducks.  By the following day, the sidewalk they were standing on was completely flooded.  As was much of the condo complex! 
 
Later in the afternoon, they talked me in to taking them back to the beach "just to play in the sand."


Ha!  "Play in the sand" meant every five minutes yelling at someone they couldn't go any further out.  The water . . . they wanted it!
 

We made our way to Red Fish Blue Fish for dinner that night.  We had a small wait so we spent the time playing giant Jenga on the beach (in the rain!) and giant Connect Four.



And one little girl just looked way too cute.
 

So, leading up to the trip the kids did a TON of chores to earn spending money.  We've made it a point that they know we all do chores to chip in on keeping our house clean: load and unload the dishwasher, sweep, take out the garbage, clean the bathrooms, etc., but offered them "above and beyond" chores for an allowance.  So they did yard work, they cleaned the pool and the patio, they cleaned out the fridges, organized in the garage, etc.  THEN.  On Monday morning when we got in the car, each kid started out with $10.  Every hour we would assess their behavior and decide whether or not they kept all $10 (this worked better than earning a dollar each hour of the trip as they already had their money in hand.)  By the time we got to the condo, only $2 total had been lost.  Most successful trip we've ever had!  Anyway.  All this to say, they had spending money burning holes in their pockets.  So we made our way to a souvenir shop where we indulged in all the tacky.
 

K2 isn't pictured because she spent her money on Beanie Boos . . . all the Beanie Boos with that one these days.

The next morning, I stood out on the balcony and saw that the sidewalk leading to the pool (and then on to the beach) was completely underwater.  We decided to go "explore" and ended up . . . back at the beach.  Fully clothed.  Ahhhhh.  Mark and K2 worked on a massive sandcastle.


And the other kids splashed in the waves.  It was still a red flag so, again, they couldn't REALLY get in.
 

The waves ended up being AMAZING for shell hunting.  We got some seriously awesome shells!


We went back up to the condo for lunch and to chill for a little bit then made our way back down.  I have to brag on these kids for a minute.  It was NOT the beach vacation any of us had in mind.  Not at all.  But they embraced it and had fun anyway and there was actually minimal complaining.  They even kept saying how cool it was to be at the beach during a tropical storm.  So . . . thanks Cindy?
 

We headed to Crabs We Got 'Em for dinner that night.
 

Again, we played on the playground while waiting for our table -- this was one thing (well, one of many things) that made me wish for better weather.  The kids would've loved, loved, loved the beachfront playgrounds during beautiful weather.
 


We had to be out of the condo at 9:00 am which, oh em gee, holy impossible with seven people!  We had the full day ahead of us so we checked out more of Pensacola Beach . . . everything flooded!
 
 


We made a stop at Joe Patti's for fresh Mahi Mahi and Grouper then made our way to Mobile.  The plan was to tour the battle ship then find a hotel with an indoor pool so the kids could swim.  Ha!  Mobile was flooded, we couldn't even get to the battleship.  We decided to just go home -- and the next day Cindy showed in Memphis with vengeance.  We couldn't escape her!  We said a lot of "THANKS CINDY" last week and over the weekend!

It wasn't the beach trip we had in mind but it was fun and it was family time and, as I told Mark, one of these days it'll be a joke around the Thanksgiving dinner table.  "That time we went on a beach vacation and there was a tropical storm . . . only us!  . . . all those old people with warnings about rip tides and how they saw someone drown LAST WEEK . . . playing cards and K2 winning every hand . . . the first time we tried calamari!"  Not the vacation we envisioned but every vacation has a story to tell anyway.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Beachin' with Cindy

I planned on putting all our vacation deets in this one post.  But.  I drove to Mt. Vernon, Illinois, and back home yesterday afternoon.  And I was way too tired when I got home to remember all the facts.  So we'll just start with the first day - also known as the only day we had decent weather - and mostly a picture dump.
 
We arrived in Pensacola right at 4:00 -- just in time to check in to our condo.
 

We stayed at the Villas on the Gulf and - for the most part - I was pleased with the condo.  I felt the VRBO description was slightly misleading.  Our entire condo complex was beach front but our particular condo view was just other condos.  I felt like they could've been a little more clear on that.  All good, though, and it definitely was enough space for the seven of us.  And we were only about a four minute walk to the beach.  WINNING!
 

After we got all settled in: BEACH TIME!



The kids splashed in the waves, yelled "THIS IS SO COOL" eleventy times, and then took turns burying each other in the sand.




We washed up, got ready, and headed out to dinner.
 

We chose Flounders - on recommendation from our neighbor - for dinner the first night.  I'll write about all the restaurants we ate at in a separate post.  We ate good all week long!
 

After dinner, we took a few minutes to climb on the playground then took a walk on the pier.
 


And ended the night in the great big chair.
 

Approximately five minutes after this picture was taken, it started monsoon raining.  And basically didn't stop for the next three days.  Ahhhhh.  THANKS CINDY!

More tomorrow . . .

Monday, June 26, 2017

That Time We Went on Vacation with Cindy



Have you ever tried to plan a family vacation around two different custody schedules, business trips, a summer class, and football practice?  It likely requires a phD and definitely deserves a medal!

Plan A was to beach it the first week of June.  Then in January - January! - my ex requested to have the kids the first two weeks of June.  We do a first come/ first served with out summertime schedule and he asked first.  Scratch the first week of June.

Plan B came about in early February.  Mark's college roommate had two extra tickets to see Jimmy Buffet at Wrigley Field in July.  We could stay with them a couple nights, go to the concert, go to Great America, visit the Indiana Dunes.  Perfect, right?  Until his ex but the kibosh on that one.  Another no-go.

Enter Plan C.  We'd still go north, still stay with the college roomie, still visit Great America and the Indiana Dunes.  We'd just do it a week later.  Then we got the Boy's football schedule -- practices that week -- and Mark ended up with a business trip scheduled for the same week.  Ahhhhhh.  Back to the drawing boardAgain.

Finally we settled on the beach for the third week in June.  We booked super last minute so had to get what we could as far as a condo went.  I could only get something for three nights - arriving Monday, leaving Thursday - but we figured we'd play it by ear and get a hotel for Thursday and Friday nights.

The best laid plans.  The best laid plans.

That, my friends, is how we ended up vacationing during a tropical storm. 

More to come tomorrow.  (Spoiler alert: it wasn't the vacation we envisioned but we actually had a blast!)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Summer Reading List: Hannah and Chamberlin

I read two books last week.  One was awesome.  The other, a total dud.

For whatever reason, I had in my head that Kristin Hannah was an author of the Mary Kay Andrews or Nancy Thayer variety.  Meaning, a couple of huge hits, some so-so books, and a whole lot of misses and try hard.  I read her book Distant Shores a few years ago and it was just okay.  For the life of me, I could've sworn I started another book of hers that I just couldn't finish.  For that reason, I'd been hesitant to pick up anything else from her.  Well, I was wrong.  So, so wrong.  I finished Firefly Lane last week and it's the front runner for a favorite summer read!

Firefly Lane tells us the story of Tully Hart and Kate Mularky, best friends since the age of 14 when Tully moved across the street from the Mularky's on Firefly Lane.  The story follows their lives through several decades.  Middle school, high school, college, career, marriage, children: it covers everything.  A betrayal causes a rift in their friendship and tragedy brings them back together once and for all.

I really, really liked this book.  It felt a lot like Summer Sisters (one of my favorites ever!) with a dash of the movie Up Close and Personal -- in fact, there are several references to Jessica Savitch, whose life Up Close is loosely based upon.  There are a lot of pop culture and historical references through out the book, something I really appreciated.  "Hey, I remember that too!"  I'm a big fan of that sort of thing in books, rather than an author pretending that the characters were just plunked into some town in Ohio where absolutely nothing happened that wasn't fabricated entirely for the novel. 

I did find the character of Tully to be over the top selfish and kind of a bitch.  I appreciate, though, how Hannah made her characters multi-dimensional.  Tully claws her way to the top of the broadcasting world but still feels as though she's missed out on something.  Kate devotes her entire life to her children and finds that she's lost herself in the process.  All very much real life and I appreciate that Hannah struck a cord with both sides of that balance.

The book was thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyable -- and made me want to pursue a career in news in the 1980's! -- but it was also a little long.  It could've easily been a good hundred pages shorter just by removing some unnecessary details and plot lines.  The betrayal that the back cover of the book warns you about doesn't happen until well after the mid-point of the book.  And while it was somewhat anticlimactic, I was very relieved by what it wasn't. (That's all I can say without giving away anything!)  I hated the ending but you're supposed to hate the ending.

There were important details left out in the conclusion of the novel but Hannah has a follow-up, Fly Away, that I'm assuming will tie up loose ends.  It's already in my thrift books cart!  All in all, this is definitely one to pick up and add to your reading list.  It was warm, touching, and lovely. 

Now let's talk about a book that wasn't that great.

I picked up The Beach Quilt by Holly Chamberlin because it was in the clearance bin at Barnes and Noble and because it had "Beach" in the title.  I'm honestly disappointed I paid as much as $6 for it.  It was awful.

The Beach Quilt tells the story of Sarah Bauer, a 16-year-old girl growing up in a beach town in Maine.  She's a good student, quiet and pensive, and never any trouble.  So, of course, she ends up pregnant and no one can believe it.  The book tells not just Sarah's story but that of her mother and sister, best friend and best friend's mother.  The back cover of the book tells of the quilt the women all work together on in and you think it will be something much more poignant than it actually was.

I was about 50 pages in when I just could not do it anymore.  It was so boring and so contrived and none of the characters were all that likeable.  I actually planned on shelving it but skipped ahead to the final chapter.  I realized there was a twist that actually made me want to soldier through the book.  And I did.  And guess what?  The twist was awful . . . just bad, bad, so very bad.  Not well written and one of those things was just like BAM!  It happened!  Now I'll devote another ten pages to this story and wrap it up all sloppy.

The plot for this book was actually decent but it was executed terribly.  I had to check the copyright date more than once to make sure the book was written in 2014 and not 1954 due to the way teen pregnancy was portrayed.  The "secrets" certain characters hold are way too easy to figure out.  The dialogue is entirely unrealistic and I had a feeling the author had never been around 16-year-old girls EVER.  There was also a weird cat - and weird relationship between Sarah's relationship with the cat - that was just . . . weird

Obviously, I was not a fan of this book at all.  And, as a result, I doubt I'll pick up any more of Holly Chamberlin's novels.  It was that painful to try to get through.  Pass on this one!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Foodie Friday: South of Beale

Last Thursday night, The Girl and I headed downtown where we met Mark and a coworker of his at South of Beale for dinner. It was my first visit to SOB but I doubt it will be my last!

We started things off with a round of appetizers: fried avocado and chicken and waffles.  The fried avocado was delish because, hello, avocado.  I've had way better chicken and waffles though.  The waffles were a little dry and I guess I just expected more from the chicken.

For our entrees, I chose the duck patty melt for something a little different.  It ended up being REALLY good!  A duck meat patty smothered in gouda cheese with caramelized onions.  Mark chose the shrimp and grits and his meal was even better than mine!  The cheese grits were some of the best I've ever tasted ever.  We only had approximately five or six bites left and just couldn't finish but we took those few bites home with us!  Ha!  They don't have a children's menu so we ordered the pizza for the Girl.  It sounded seriously yum -- topped with tomatoes, roasted garlic, and basil.  But, you know, she's a kid so we ordered it with only the cheese.  It had no red sauce so she wasn't a fan.  I think it would be delicious with all the toppings.  For dessert, we split a brownie and it was pretty much heavenly.

We had zero humidity that night so we enjoyed sitting on the patio and it was lovely.  Our service was decent. I've had better service downtown but I've also had much, much worse.

We will definitely be back.  Mostly because I must try their smoked gouda mac and cheese!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Thursday Things

1)  We made our first zoo trip of the summer last Thursday.  A membership to the Memphis Zoo is $100 per family (two adults, you can list the number of kids you want to include) and is good for an entire year.  It is SO WORTH IT.  They have various rotating exhibits -- right now there are animals made out of Legos that are huge and neat and fun.  Plus, there's just the animals and fountains.  And it's just a fun way to spend the day.
 


We summered hard over the weekend so we needed a rest day on Monday.  It was back at it on Tuesday when we met friends at Shelby Farms.
 

The Girl ended up spending the night with them Tuesday night so I had Wednesday all to myself.  Whaaaa?  It's definitely been the summer of sleepovers around here!

2) We have a couple of cardinals that have taken residence in our yard.  Mark thought we should name them and I agreed: with the names of famous Cardinals.  We easily settled on Maguire for the female (no offence, Mark Mc, but your last name works well for a unisex name!) but I thought the male should be Ozzie while Mark was going for Reggie, after Reggie the Redbird, the mascot at Illinois State, his alma mater.  Since we're dorks, we settled on Reginald Osborne.  I'll, of course, call him Ozzie.  ;)

3) I watched the latest Duggar wedding the other night and why why WHY did I do that to myself?  Joy is practically a child bride and the whole thing just made me so sad.  In the normal world, they'd be able to date and kiss and get to know each other and not have to get married for all that to happen.  (Also, I saw a guy I went to school with flash on the screen during the reception.  How weird.  Arkansas is such a small state!)

4) Mark and I did something we never do the other night.  We had no kids and decided to make it a date night in.  Whaaaa?  We always take advantage of going out when we're kid-free but wanted to save money for vacation.  Plus, it was just too damn hot.  We ended up making steak sandwiches and just spent the evening talking.  It was nice.

5) J and the K's came home yesterday!  I really missed them.  A lot.  The summer is harder on me than weekends.  And this year was even harder because the boys had texting abilities and let me know how much HE missed ME.  Ugh.  Summer is the worst time to be divorced.



6) We're leaving for the beach Monday and, therefore, I spent last Sunday morning scouring Yelp to find . . . what else?  Places to eat!  What did we do before Yelp?!?  Now we know how has quarter oysters on Monday nights and where all the locals go.  We're excited!

7) I cooked frozen chicken in my Instant Pot yesterday.  The recipe I used told me it was "ten minutes from frozen to fully cooked!"  Ha!  Maybe my chicken just had some Dolly Parton sized breasts but it was closer to 20 minutes.  No big deal, though, and they were juicy and delicious!  We used the meat for chicken Caesar salads last night.  Too hot to cook!

8) Father's Day weekend!  Mark still hasn't told me what he wants to do but I have a feeling the day will be centered around getting ready for vacation.  All good, though, because he can celebrate later in the week deep sea fishing with the boys.

9) We are trying to cram a whole lot of SUMMER in the next couple days!  Today we're (hopefully) getting library cards because I JUST realized our community library isn't affiliated with the Memphis library system.  We're (maybe) getting ice cream.  And (if the weather allows) we're hitting up a baseball game.  Tomorrow is friends over for swimming.  Yay for a fun few days!

10) This reminded me of my PawPaw!  Ha!