Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Work it, Girl!

I don't think I've been actually invested in the awards part of the Academy Awards since 1998 when I was obsessed with Matt Damon and felt it would be a heinous miscarriage of justice if the Academy did not see Good Will Hunting for the masterpiece it was.  Titanic won, of course, but Matt and Ben did take home a screenplay Oscar so I suppose all was sorta right with the world.

These days, the only nominated movies I've watched generally fall in the "best animated feature" category and I watch for two things: the tribute to fallen stars* and, of course, the fashion. 

*Totally fell asleep this year before the tribute AND the drama at the end of the show.

I was lucky enough to have two kids who wanted to watch the red carpet with me.  Kid 3 was interested in the opening number, which I took as a nod to Memphis pride and JT but, in reality, I'm sure it had more to do with the song being from Trolls.  The Girl Child and K1 were all too happy to watch and critique the fashion choices with me.  And, man, are they same hard critics!  Woah!

I thought I would share our favorite looks from the night:


Oh my goodness.  HOLY STUNNING.  I'm not normally a fan of dresses that basically match the skin tone (which is why, even though I loved her dress, you won't see Emma Stone on my list) but Nicole Kidman can pull it off.  Oh man, can she pull it off.  I thought she was beautiful, classy, and graceful.  The kids and I agreed that this was our favorite look of the night.


Viola Davis is a very close second.  That dress is amazing and her overall look is just class, class, class.  I absolutely adore how vibrant that red is.


We caught a glimpse of Tracy Pollan when she and Michael J. Fox walked the red carpet.  It was just a glimpse but I loved the color so I had to Google to see the whole look.  LOVE that dress!

 
A black on black tux - and with a bow tie! - is just about the absolute sexiest thing a man can wear.  Ryan Gosling should've taken pointers from Mahershala Ali here rather than wearing that 70's groom tux he had on.


I actually hated her hair - and, I get it, she was going for a natural look but you can be natural while also not looking messy - but that dress!  How flippin' gorgeous.

And, there ya have it, what three people in southwest Tennessee thought of the fashion at the 2017 Oscars!

P.S. Laissez les bons temps rouler! My heart will be in NOLA today!

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Best 20 Minutes of the Weekend

Mark had an outpatient procedure done on Friday.  Everything went smoothly and he was drinking a beer with Russell by noon.  But, we went in (VERY early) that morning knowing there was a chance things wouldn't go so smoothly.  We were both nervous and stressed.  And, I swear, I don't think I really, truly breathed that morning until the doctor called me in the waiting room to tell me everything went perfectly.  Relief. 

(This has nothing to do with the remainder of the post but I have to include because I want to remember:  the nurse asked Mark point blank, "you drink a lot?"  Mark answered, "yes" and the nurse burst out laughing.  I guess they don't expect people to tell the truth?  Ha.  Anyway, that completely broke the ice with the whole crew and we explained to them that we have five kids.  When the nurse anesthesiologist came by a little later he told Mark, "what I have here is a six pack in a syringe."  Anyway I guess my point is to always be truthful to your healthcare providers.  It might just make their day!  Ha!)

Mark took a nap once we got home on Friday and was still sleeping when the kids got home from school.  I had warned them repeatedly that they had to be on their best behavior, to do it for Mark.  Oh.my.goodness.  They were awful.  Like, so bad.  So, so bad.  There were attitudes and arguments and meltdowns.  And you know how when you have toddlers and they have a meltdown and you can't reason with them and you think nothing on Earth can be worse than a toddler meltdown?  Wrong.  Because, suddenly, they're a preteen and having a meltdown and you still can't reason with them and you're thinking, "Wait.  You are way too damn old for this."  So, yeah, Friday night?  It sucked. 

Saturday rolled around and things were a little better.  Only one kid was acting a fool rather than all four and even that kiddo finally got it all out and was on a more even keel.  They day went much smoother.  But what happened that evening was the best 20 minutes of the whole weekend.

Russell came over for dinner and he and I and Mark sat around the kitchen talking for a bit after the chili dogs were finished.  He left and Mark and I remained at the table and, one by one, the kids kind of trickled in and sat with us.  And we all talked.  We joked around.  The boys and I sang the Fresh Prince theme song.  We played "to questions" where we each had to ask two questions about ourselves and the others had to try to come up with the right answer.  It was all led by the kids and it was fun and it made me think of how things will be when they're teens and young adults.  When our day to day management of their lives becomes less and less, how much it will mean to me to have 20 minutes around the dinner table with them.

I know this is a pretty corny post but I wanted to write it.  Mostly for me.  And mostly for me to remember that we put up with the Friday night to get to the Saturday night.  For every time they're the biggest assholes on the planet, there's going to be a time when they are fun and delightful and you sit back and think, "I made that!  I raised that!"  It's truly the sweetest part of parenting (so far!)

Friday, February 24, 2017

Foodie Friday: Meal Planning

Let's talk about food baybeee . . . let's talk about YOU and Me . . . Let's . . . quit being corny and talk about what my family ate this week.

** Remember how I made a two week meal plan last week?  Oops!

Monday

Chicken "Tacos"

Pretty sure I've shared this before but my chicken taco "recipe" is just a few chicken breasts thrown in the crockpot with some salsa and half a can of chicken broth.  Shred it before serving and ~ Voila! ~ totally tastes like white people chicken tacos.  On this particular night, I didn't realize we were low on tortillas so we (mostly) ended up having chicken nachos.  So easy, so delish, so perfect for a night when we all eat at different times.

Tuesday

Shrimp Linguine

Russell and Kathy hung out with the Boy Child and Girl Child on Saturday night while Mark and I went to church.  We left them the stuff to make shrimp tacos and, after all was said and done, still had a nearly full bag of shrimp in the fridge.  I planned on just having shrimp tacos for lunch every day this week but thought maybe, probably I should share.  Mark suggested (i.e. begged for) shrimp linguine so Tuesday night I made this recipe.  This was SO GOOD.  Like, it was immediately put on the rotation and I'm a little ashamed of myself for never before making a homemade alfredo sauce.  All I did different was use Sauvignon Blanc instead of Pinot Grigio (I hate Pinot Grig.)  I added a lot of pepper and omitted the sage.  Every single child asked for seconds.  WIN!

We served with salad and garlic bread.

Wednesday

Split Pea Soup

I think it was Thanksgiving when we had a ham. I told Mark to save the bone so I could make black eyed peas.  He did, but also saved more ham so we could have split pea soup.  I was telling him I wanted French Dips for Wednesday night's dinner.   He said, "what about the split pea soup!?"  So, finally, on Wednesday, he got his split pea soup!  My first time ever making it so I read the instructions on the bag of peas.  Basically "boil in water."  Um, neg-a-tee-vo.  Negative.   I put the peas in the crockpot with 4 cups chicken broth, 4 cups water, some diced onion, the ham, and a generous sprinkling (submersion?!?) of Lawry's.  It came out super good!  Neither of the girls would touch it -- "it's green!" But all three boys ate it, with J having seconds.  That child, though, his favorite meal ever is black eyed peas and this is basically the same thing.

Thursday

Leftovers!

It happens at least once every week . . . the whole leftover smorgasborg.  We had a little bit of everything left over as well as some chicken legs we'd grilled over the weekend. 

This weekend is going to be kind of weird.  There's a chance I won't be home to cook and Gigi will be here to corral the masses so I have things for her to make easy meals.  Chili we froze the last time we made it, ravioli I bought at Aldi that can be thrown in the crockpot with a little sauce, things like that.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Thursday Things

1) This is Us!

I was excited about this episode because it was filmed in Memphis and I wanted to see snippets of my city.  They did a pretty good job capturing an authentic Memphis vibe and I loved William being able to perform one more time.  That said, I'm not giving away any spoilers so the only other thing I can add is this was easily the most emotional episode so far. 

2) Our weather has been amazing lately.  I'm talking . . . when the kids came home from their dad's on Sunday, K2 quickly went and changed into her bathing suit thinking she could get in the pool!  She quickly learned the water is still a bit too cold for that.  I really am thinking we'll be in the pool in April and, hopefully, we can swim for K1's birthday party in early May.  We'll see.  For now, we're enjoying more time outside and being able to have park days in February!

3) I adore my kids' school, I really do.  But, my goodness, there is always, always, constantly something to pay for.  $12 class pictures, $50 yearbooks, can you bring a lasagna for the teacher luncheon?, $5 for the Gym Jam.  On Tuesday, the fourth graders came home with field trip permission slips.  The field trip cost is $36.  THIRTY SIX DOLLARS FOR A FOURTH GRADE FIELD TRIP.  And we have two of them.  And they want us to both go with them as well.  $144.  For a fourth grade field trip.  I can't even.

4) We have an Amazon Firestick and Amazon Prime and, lately, my favorite feature has been listening to music (free!) through the Firestick.  It has entire albums on there so I've been listening to a lot of those while I do homework or housework.  All this to say: Old Dominion's Meat and Candy album is so good!  I legitimately love every song on their.  I also like Maren Morris's Hero but there were a couple songs that I skipped over.

5) One of my favorite things about my littlest girly girl is how much she loves to give gifts.  Every single day I will find her "wrapping" something to give to her teacher or one of the aides at school.  Yesterday, she left with treasures for the speech pathologist: three pennies, a strand of Mardi Gras beads (at least she's timely!), and a random brass ring she found in the garage.  I've been telling her that the teachers will appreciate pictures she draws more than "stuff" so here's hoping she takes that advice soon.  I do love that she loves to give though.

6) You know how people pretty much everywhere are painting rocks and hiding them around their cities?  I actually found a 901 rock walking out of Walgreen's the other day . . . and didn't even realize what it was until after I drove off.  Doh.  J made one at his class Valentine party and we "planted" it at the park yesterday.  We've yet to find another one though.  We'll go on a hunt some time soon.

7) I think I may be the only person in the world that's not excited about the new Beauty and the Beast.  I mean, can they please leave the movies of my childhood alone?  I was 11 when the cartoon version came out and it STILL remains one of my very favorite Disney movies. 

8) POLITICAL TALK:  Did you know there's a bill to eliminate the Department of Education?   How, why?  What would this do to IDEA?  I don't want Betsy DeVos running our education department but I also don't want it terminated entirely. 

9) We're gearing up to enter Birthday Season 2.0 around here.  We're having a party for K2 on April Fool's Day so she requested a "prank party."  That's required a lot of thinking on my part but I think I've come up with enough ideas to pull off a pretty fun party.  K1 will be nine on the 9th of May.  Golden birthday!  Cinco de Mayo is on a Friday this year, and right before his birthday, so we're throwing him a fiesta . . . which basically means we're doing a taco bar and a piñata because all he really wants to do is "play xbox with my friends!"

10) I was way too amused by this. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Elin Hilderbrand: Here's to Us

I have officially read every single thing that Elin Hilderbrand has published and this makes me . . . sad.  Time to start re-reading through her old stuff.  I first picked up Nantucket Nights on a whim when I was pregnant with J and have been hooked on her books ever since.  I re-read Nights last year, as well as The Castaways and The Rumor and recently picked up a discounted copy of The Matchmaker.  That'll be my next re-read.

Here's to Us is Hilderbrand's latest summer time Nantucket tale.  The story centers around the death of celebrity chef Deacon Thorpe and those he left behind: three wives, Laurel, Belinda, and Scarlett, and children Hayes, Angie, and Ellery, as well as his best friend Buck.  After Deacon's death, the family meets at his home on Nantucket to say their final goodbyes and pay their respects.

I adore Elin Hilderbrand and this book was an easy read.  It sucks you in and you want to know what happens and how it's all going to work out. 

That said.

It's kind of awful.  The only likeable characters are Laurel - who comes off as a little too angelic at some points - and Angie.  And both these characters have no problem being involved with infidelity.  Belinda and Scarlett are just thoroughly unlikeable that you really don't care what happens to them.  Hayes, Ellery, and Buck are forgettable characters.  Deacon himself is a cad, a cheater, and it almost seemed as though we were supposed to forgive all this because he had a rough childhood. 

There is so much infidelity in this books.  So much.  I honestly think it would've been infinitely more enjoyable - and less soap opera-ish - if the rampant affairs had been taken down a notch or two.  It was just all . . . too much.

One thing I thought was really cool about the book: pepper through are various Deacon recipes that are referenced during the book.  Some of these recipes were the brainchild of Jessica Merchant who writes the How Sweet Eats blog.  She was one of the first ever food bloggers I found so I thought that was pretty cool.  Also, I'm totally jealous that she has some kind of friendship with Elin Hilderbrand!

Overall synopsis of the book: I'm not going to tell you it's a must read because, really, it's not.  But, at the same time, it's not like I'm mad or feel like I wasted my time by reading it. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sanity Savers

** Totally not related to this post but: Tonight's This is Us is set in Memphis!  Watch it!  It took me a bit to fall in love with Memphis but now I'm head over heels and can't wait to see how they depict my city.  I know for sure they're on Mud Island, which I've written about several times.  I'm also expecting to see Sun Studio and Beale Street!

When I was younger, I babysat pretty much every child who ever went to our church.  I babysat for date nights or so parents could go to a meeting.  I babysat during church events.  I babysat the same little girl every day after school and during the summer for three years.  I don't think it would come as much of a surprise to the people from that time in my life that I would end up having a gaggle of kids of my own.  I always said I wanted three kids and here I am . . . with five.  It makes life interesting!  And by interesting I mean an equal mix of fun and frustrating.  Anyway, I thought I would share a few things that help me keep my sanity (well, okay, somewhat help me keep my sanity) while parenting.

1) Sam's Club
LIFESAVER!  Our Sam's Club membership is probably the very smartest thing we spend money on.  We can buy lunch stuff and snacks for the kids in bulk.  We buy things like toilet paper and shampoo and toothpaste there.  With so many people in the house, we go through a lot!  Sam's helps so much.  Mark usually does a Sam's run every weekend -- sometimes we can stretch it into every other weekend -- and I do the Aldi/ Kroger runs when we don't need things in bulk.

2) Pick Your Battles Parenting
Sigh.  This is the hardest thing for me.  Picking my battles.  So, this is the first year the kids haven't had to wear uniforms to school and, well, let's just say some of their "fashion" choices have been a little questionable.  I sent a kindergartener off to school yesterday in shorts and boots with the fur.  Looking like Britney Spears.  All the kids think if it's the same color but different shades then it still matches.  And my younger boy wants to wear shorts every.single.day.  I (generally - there are some exceptions) just go with it.  I'd rather have kids dressed funky than spend our mornings fighting.

That trickles over to other things as well.  Sometimes I have to bite my tongue or sit on my hands to keep from saying/ doing things.  I just have to decide whether the inevitable fight is worth it.

3) Make the Kids Help
I love these ages!  They're all old enough to help out around the house and pull their weight.  My kids set and clear off the table, prep salad for dinner, sweep, wipe counters, unload the dishwasher, clean their own rooms, clean their bathrooms, vacuum.  They are in charge of keeping the dining room - which is really their homework/ craft room - clean.  The boys take the recycling and garbage out and to the curb weekly.  They also know to bring the cans in on Tuesday afternoon when they get home from school.  They rake leaves and help clean out the pool during the summer.  With so many people in the house, we really do have to have "all hands on deck" to keep from living in a messy house.

One thing we struggle with is LAUNDRY.  Oh my goodness.  The first couple months after we moved in, I would fold everyone's laundry.  Then I realized the older kids were never putting it away.  Clothes would just be strewn all over their rooms.  I got pissed  and, from that point, have taken a minimal approach to their laundry.  They're responsible for bringing down any clothes they need washed.  I will run the washer and dryer for them (though J can do this as well -- and does a lot of times) but I will not fold their clothes.  I separate everything out and put their stuff in laundry baskets.  They're responsible for folding and putting away.  I've also refused to buy them new clothes until they can take care of what they already have.

I do still take care of K2's laundry but, over the summer, we'll transition to her doing more of her own.

4) Limited Screen Time on Weekdays
I'm pretty sure most people do this but I thought I'd throw it out there anyway because it's huge for us.  The kids do not watch TV in the mornings while getting ready for school and they very rarely do in the afternoons/ evening.  We're not huge TV people anyway - unless it's football or This is Us - and we almost always have music playing in the house.  We do allow screen time on Wednesday nights when we have the Boy Child but the kids know they have to complete homework first.  The limited screen time keeps the kids from being electronic zombies and eliminates the possibility of me losing my shit because 'I TOLD YOU TO TURN THAT OFF 15 MINUTES AGO.' 

5) We Eat Together as Often as Possible.
This one is really important to me.  We're a blended family and we only have all five children under the roof at the same time a few times a month.  I REALLY like for us to eat together as often as we can.  For us, this usually means three nights during the week (the other two we have activities and it's impossible) and every meal during the weekend.  This time is amazing for conversation and catching up.  We talk about our days, we find out the best third and fourth grade gossip, and hopefully we're setting a good example for when they have families of their own.  And, yes, some days eating dinner together is a disaster of "I don't like that" and rolling eyes and one child picking on another.  But we power through those dinners for the really great ones. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Take Me to CHURCH.

I wrote a post late last week that was all cued up for today.  Yesterday I sat down and tucked it back into my drafts.  It was full on whining about all the shit that's gone on lately.  It's all been total first world problems but, by about Wednesday last week, I was at my breaking point.  STRESSED.  I decided to shelf the post and instead share some happy.  Because this weekend?  It was amazing.  And it was exactly what I needed.
 
Things started Thursday night.  Kendra, Cady, and I met at Huey's for dinner and drinks.  We were all home by 10:00 but life has been so crazy with kids and work and school.  It was nice just to sit down, catch up, and be us and not "mom" for a few hours.
 
I went to a doctor's appointment with Mark on Friday.  Funny enough, this same doctor is the one who made him very late for our first date (which was at Doc's, remember that in a minute.)  We were seriously expecting to be there all afternoon.  I even told the kids there was a chance I wouldn't be home when they got off the bus.  Ha!  We were over and done by 1:30 and decided to head over to . . . Doc's.  Full circle moment.  We went over to Russell's for a bit and visited with him and another friend, Mike, then went to pick the Boy Child up from school.  The afternoon was basketball in the driveway followed by steaks on the grill then we were in bed by 9:00.  Such a simple but great day.  The gorgeous weather helped.
 
Saturday was the day I had been waiting for for nearly six months.
 
ERIC CHURCH!
 

When people ask me why I love me some Chief so much I point them here:
 
 
And here:
 
 
And here:
 
 
And here:
 
 

 I'll stop.  Because I could go on forever. 
 
Anyway, love me some Chief.  The last time he was in the Memphis area he played FedEx Forum . . . on Halloween night a few years ago.  Having small children makes it hard to get out on Halloween.  I was SO SO SO SO glad he decided to play the Landers Center in Southaven as part of his most recent tour.
 

I thought the show was AMAZING.  It started off a little . . . slow isn't the right word . . . just with some of his darker songs that I don't really like as much.  Three in a row.  But things REALLY picked up after that and he played Carolina (my very favorite and one I wasn't expecting to hear!), Drink a Little Drink, and Pledge Allegiance to the Hag.  It just got better and better with a mix of old and new, huge hits (Talladega) and VERY early hits (Two Pink Lines).


He did a little Memphis tribute which I LOVED because I love me some Memphis.  And, come on now, Walking in Memphis is a classic made even better when your favorite is singing it.  He played two sets -- no opening act which I appreciated but also would've loved to have him tour with someone like Maren Morris (my girl crush) -- with a 20 minute intermission.  We're old people who ended up leaving at 11:30 because, you guys, ELEVEN THIRTY.  I really wanted to hear Springsteen but I figured it would be his last song and I really wanted my bed at that point.  I just put on the live version and we listened to it in the car as we made our way back to G-town.
 

So, obviously, I LOVED the show.  However.  I don't know that I'll ever go to another concert at the Landers Center.  They're SO understaffed . . . I'm talking beer lines a mile long, long lines just to get in the door, not enough bathrooms.  And the town of Southaven isn't really equipped to handle large concert crowds.  FedEx Forum is such a better arena . . . mostly because downtown Memphis is used to the crowds.  Still, though, AMAZING show.  Even if I wasn't able to convert my boyfriend to a country music fan.

Sunday was lazy.  The weather was gorgeous and the Boy Child and I were dying to get in the pool (I KNOW!  FEBRUARY!) so we dipped our toes in, I read by the pool.  It was a nice, chill day.

This weekend was so good for my soul.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Foodie Friday: Meal Planning!

I sat down Sunday afternoon and planned for two weeks.  I KNOW!  However.  We have a whole lot of "life" going on lately and Mark and I are both stressed.  So many of our meals are leftovers or leftover based.

Here's a look at what we ate this week.

Monday

Pulled Pork/ Chicken Quesadillas

Anthony came over Sunday and brought Corky's BBQ -- pulled pork and chicken.  I LOVE pulled pork quesadillas so I thought these would be great for dinner Monday night.  I made the kids chicken with barbecue sauce and cheese or just chicken and cheese.  Mark and I had pulled pork, BBQ, cheese, and jalapeno.  So yum!


Tuesday

Lasagna

Romantic dinner for six! 

Here's my lasagna recipe . . .

What you need:
1 lb ground beef
1 lb Italian sausage
1 box lasagna noodles
Minced garlic, to taste
Italian seasoning
8 oz Ricotta
8 oz cottage cheese
1 egg
Mozzarella cheese
parmesan cheese
spaghetti sauce

Here's what you do:

Sautee garlic (and onion if your kids aren't assholes) in a large skillet.  Add ground beef, Italian sausage, and Italian seasoning and cook until the meat is browned. 

Meanwhile, boil lasagna noodles until al dente.

Mix together ricotta, cottage cheese, egg, a handful of mozza cheese, and a shake or two of parmesan.  (There's a reason I'm not a food blogger . . . )

Now, let's assemble!

Spoon spaghetti sauce on the bottom of prepared casserole dish.  Add a layer of noodles, followed by a layer of cheese mixture, then meat mixture, then sprinkle mozza cheese on top.  Repeat.  Top with noodles and more mozza cheese.  Bake, covered, for 40 minutes at 400.  Remove foil and bake an additional 15 - 20 minutes or until the cheese is just the way you like it.

We served with salad, garlic bread, and . . . wine!  Also, the kids were HOPPED UP on Valentine candy and party excitement.  They actually all played upstairs and Mark and I were able to sit down and eat, just the two of us, before they ever even realized they were hungry.  This meal was a total hit -- yummy food AND a one-on-one dinner conversation.  Awesome.

Wednesday

Carnitas

French Dips were originally on the menu but, um, what I thought was roast in the fridge was actually a package of steaks.  Oops.  We still had leftover Corky's pulled pork as well as leftover pork chops from when Mark grilled Saturday night.  I chopped the meat off the pork chops, threw everything in the crockpot with half a can of chicken broth and a jar of green chili -- the exact same kind I found in Arizona a few years ago but, until now, have never been able to find in Memphis!  This meal was so, so, so good.  A couple of the kids loved it, a couple thought it was too spicy, one was sick.  Mark and I, however, LOVED it.  He even said they tasted better than restaurant carnitas.  All in the sauce,  babe.

We ate these in tortillas and the kids topped with cheese.  Black beans on the side.

Thursday

Leftovers

Yes, again.  I had a GNO and we had so many things that needed to get eaten.  Leftovers for the win!  Again.

Anthony is coming over tonight and we plan to grill.  Tomorrow night is ERIC CHURCH and who knows what will happen Sunday.

Happy Eating!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Thursday Things

1) Tuesday morning, I woke up and went to the bathroom where I saw this:


Ha!  It's sharpie marker on toilet paper but, oh my goodness, do I love that man!!

He also left me chocolates and a card on the bathroom counter but I didn't even realize they were there until I went to dry my hair.  The toilet paper - the damned toilet paper!!! - made my whole day.

2) Here's a little look at more of our Valentine's Day:

Valentine cutie all dressed up for her party at school -- I didn't get to go to the parties this time around but the kids all had a blast.

This year's teacher valentines - "Thanks a latte!"

I wrote little love notes and stuck them to each kids' memo board.

And then small little gifts for each of the kids (K1's is behind the flowers.)  Those flowers . . . I told Mark not to buy any but then couldn't resist when I saw this bouquet at Kroger.

3) Earlier this week I read this article about a "Dreamer," someone who was brought to the US illegally by their parents as a child but was protected under President Obama's 2012 DACA act, and my heart just hit the floor. 

I have two friends who are in this country "illegally."  Both brought here at very young ages by their parents -- one as a baby, one as a very young child.  When they were minors there was nothing they could do to secure citizenship.  By the time they were grown, the laws were much tougher and made it impossible for them to obtain citizenship.  These are people who only remember living in the US.  They went to schools here in the US.  THEY F'ING WORK HERE AND PAY TAXES (seriously, they have tax ID numbers!!!!  They pay their damn taxes.)  The only lives they've ever known are HERE in the US.  And seeing as they were brought here as very young children, it's not even their fault if they're illegal. Can we please - PLEASE - start decriminalizing that?  They, those who were brought here as children and are not criminals, deserve amnesty. 

4) This month hasn't been the greatest so far -- the school nurse has practically had my number on speed dial and we have some other stressors in life right now.  I'm ready for February to be over and done with.

5) I'm still going to write a review of this month's book club, Wonder, but if you have pre-teen kids they absolutely NEED to and MUST read this!  I just finished it and I'm going to have three bigger kids read it now.

6) This weekend is ERIC CHURCH!  I bought the tickets back in, um, August, I think?  Maybe September.  Regardless, I've been waiting a long time for this and I'm so ready to fangirl so hard.

7) I think we've decided to take  a small trip to Chicago over Spring Break.  We only have two of the kiddos and Mark has a conference there.  It'll be so nice to get away for a few days and also visit friends and family.

8) On Mondays and Wednesdays, I take the Girl Child to an after school activity that's pretty far across town -- and in the same area where both girls will do tumbling and both boys do basketball starting next month -- and, oh my goodness, THE TRAFFIC.  I know if you live in a huge city, you're laughing, but Memphis traffic is such an asshole.

9) I am so so so so so so so SO OVER Beyoncé.  I don't get the appeal.  I think she has a decent voice but nothing like the accolades she gets and, frankly, I hate most of her songs.  So.Over.Her.

10)  Accurate.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Elin Hilderbrand: Winter Street Trilogy

One of the most interesting things about moving all my old blog posts over to a new blog was getting to see - really see - which posts I wrote received the most hits and which received mediocre or even poor hits.  Book reviews were amongst the mediocre.

However. I love to read and I love to write about the books I read.  AND.  I'm in the local book club I'm in because my (now!) friend happened to stumble upon one of my book reviews and invited me to join.  I totally consider that a win!  So, all that said, welcome to a book review post!

My awesome friend Becky was my secret Santa and she sent me four - FOUR!!!! - Elin Hilderbrand books as part of my gift.  I was holding off on reading the Winter Street trilogy because I wanted to read all three books and I basically don't buy any book in hardcover (Winter Storms is still in hardcover).  But Becky is the best and sent me ALL three of those PLUS Here's to Us (I'll review next week.)

So let's discuss.

The trilogy - Winter Street, Winter Stroll, Winter Storms - centers around the Quinn family.  Patriarch Kelley long ago divorced from Margaret and married second wife Mitzi.  Kelley and Margaret had three children, Patrick, Kevin, and Ava, all now grown.  Kelley and Mitzi's 20-year-old son, Bart, recently enlisted in the Marine Corps.  After divorcing Margaret, Kelley walked away from his corporate Wall Street career and directly into ownership of the Winter Street Inn on Nantucket.  The trilogy centers around many different things:

- Kelley walks in on Mitzi kissing George, the man who plays Santa Claus at the Inn, and she subsequently leaves him.
- Patrick, a hedge fund manager with a wife and three kids, lands in legal trouble.
- Kevin is a bartender who is in love with the inn's housekeeper.
- Ava has a tumultuous love life of her own.
- Bart has been shipped off to Afghanistan
- Margaret feels guilt over building her own career during her children's formative years and also deals with her own love life issues

I think that's the best synopsis I can give without giving away major spoilers.

Here's the deal: Elin Hilderbrand can basically do no wrong by me.  I totally fangirl for her.  Love her.  However.  I found this trilogy, overall, to be kind of . . . campy?  It was just SO soap opera-ish.  I enjoyed it.  Oh man, I enjoyed it and I couldn't put any of the books down.  But some of the things that happened (particularly with Ava's love life) were just a little come on now. 

Here's why I love Hilderbrand: I should've hated Margaret Quinn.  She chose her career over her children.  And yet.  YET!  She was my favorite character in the whole series.  Well, except for George-the-Santa.  He was complicent in a woman cheating on her husband and I STILL liked the dude's character!  That just shows you that Hilderbrand knows how to paint characters as multi-dimensional and likeable besides obviously horrible character traits.  I also appreciate that she had the character of Kelley own up to his own flaws that contributed to the demise of his marriages and that she lets a seemingly "perfect" character (Patrick's wife Jennifer) fall into something that happens to a lot of the seemingly perfect.

If you already know and love Hilderbrand books, pick these up and devour them.  You'll feel slightly disappointed but still invested in the Quinn family.

If you've never read a Hilderbrand book, DO NOT make these your firsts!  Go pick up Barefoot or Summerland or Rumors.  Trust.

Finally, apparently she's writing a new book: Winter Solstice.  So maybe we'll get to - once again - catch up with the Quinn family?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

LOVE!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Truth be told, I think it's a stupid holiday but I love stupid holidays because they mean fun things for the kids.  We had heart shaped pancakes for breakfast this morning, they have parties at school today, they'll come home this afternoon to a box of chocolates for each of them, and tonight I'm making a romantic dinner for . . . six. 

I decided against writing yet another post about just how amazing my boyfriend is (spoiler: he's pretty damn amazing) and instead share some of my favorite relationship advice, tips that have helped me.  I kinda wondered if a divorced person should write out any kind of advice when I realized: YES!  Mainly because I know what absolutely, positively does not even begin to work.

First, I'm going to tell you the worst piece of relationship advice I've ever received: as long as a man doesn't hit you, if he's a good provider then you can put up with anything else.  Um, no.  No.  Not even.  It goes without saying why this is such bad advice.  Please don't ever fall into the trap of thinking, "well, at least he doesn't hit me."  "I've been called worse things than a bitch."  "He only said that because he loves me."  "He may have slept with her but he's in love with me."  Value yourself!

Now, some of the best advice I can give:

1) Loving someone should be easy.  When I was married, I read an article or blog post or something once where the author basically said, "why do people think marriage is so hard?  Marriage is fun!  It's easy!"  I saw red and instantly decided to hate that bitch.  Why?  Because, for me, my marriage WAS hard.  It wasn't fun.  It wasn't easy.  But that's because I was with the wrong person.  In my current relationship, I'm building a life with my very best friend.  We're so in sync, he's 110% right for me.  And, yes, it's easy.  Sure, we get frustrated with each other from time to time.  And the kids can make us want to pull our hair out every second of every day.  But what we have between the two of us?  It's amazing and it's easy.

2) Put your relationship first.  Eeeeek!  This can be such a hard one!  We both brought children into our relationship and while we do absolutely value them and the relationships we have with them, our relationship is what comes first.  Because it makes life better for every single person in our family.  Because we're more than just "mom" and "dad."  Because we're setting an example for our children. Because we pray that one day our children will have what we have, will find what we've found.  I tell the kids all the time, "I don't love Mark MORE.  I love him DIFFERENT and one of these days you'll understand."  I pray they do. 

3) Common Interests, Separate Interests.  I think it's sooooo important to have things in common, things both people in a couple enjoy doing.  For instance, we both love football and going to games.  We both love entertaining and having friends over.  We both love to cook and be in the kitchen together.  But it's also important to be able to do your own thing.  And it's so important to have someone who is cool with you doing your own thing.  I love reading so Mark watches the kids once a month while I go to book club.  I keep the kids while he meets his friends for a beer at Doc's and he watches them for my once a month Girls' Night out.  He golfs while I could care less.  I'm crafty and he could care less. 

4) Don't trash talk your partner.  To anyone.  Ever.  It's easy to fall into complaining about your partner to your friends.  And once upon a time I would've told you it was completely healthy to vent your frustrations.  But you know what?  My man deserves better than that, my relationship deserves better than that.  If we need to "vent frustrations," we need to do that with each other rather than about each other.

5) Desire each other.  Desiring each other - wanting each other - is so, so, so important.  I don't agree with a lot of things that come out of Michelle Duggar's mouth but I do with this quote: "Anybody can make lunch for him. He can get his lunch somewhere else. But you are the only one who can meet that special need that he has in his life for intimacy. You’re it. You’re the only one."  For what it's worth, this goes both ways -- for men and women.  Of course, no one should ever feel pressured or forced into sex and the right partner will absolutely understand if you're sick or you're dead tired.  But physical intimacy is so important to a relationship.  Ladies, it's a GOOD thing if your man can't keep his hands off you!  You are the one he desires, the one he wants.  Let him smack you on the butt every time he passes you in the kitchen or randomly grab a boob just because.  He wants you!

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Second Time Around

I've been writing on the Internet for a while now but the modern day version of this blog started in early 2009 with These are the Moments.  I started the blog when I had two babies, a husband who was almost never home, and I knew pretty much no one in the town I lived in.  Blogging was my outlet, writing always had been.  I totally named my blog after the Edwin McCain song (still love it! And him!) and it was mostly meant as . . . I guess a scrapbook on steroids?  I don't know how to describe it.  I had a blog all about my boys for a while but it was . . . all about my boys.  Not really about me. 

So I started These are the Moments.  And it was my digital scrapbooking pages, a whole lot of (way too much of??) me, and a little bit of my boys.  And, at the time, I didn't think too much about privacy.  When they were babies, their stories were also my stories and I felt comfortable sharing more about them than I do now.  It's a fine line to walk when it comes to privacy.  I mean, it's not like I was giving out our address or anything but I didn't think twice about using their names.  And now they're older and they know what Google is.  I wouldn't want one of their classmates to randomly Google one of their names, run across my blog, and use it to tease them or whatever.  I know that's a stretch but it's a stretch worth thinking about.  I want to give them more privacy.

There's another facet of this too.  My life has changed so much since 2009.  Oh my goodness.  A move to Memphis.  Another baby.  Divorce.  Going back to work.  Finding love again.  Going back to school.  It hasn't even been a decade but feels like a lifetime!  I'm a different person.  My family is different.  And, really, I feel like what I have now is my second chance.  It's my second time around with love, with family (and it's pretty amazing!)

I've started bringing some old posts over here and will continue to bring most of the old things I've written.  There are a lot of broken links and pictures that don't show up in old entries.  I'm trying to clean all that up as well as make sure I don't post anything that's sharing about my former stepdaughter.  I still have a relationship with her - and, wow, has she turned into a really great kid - and this is interest to being fair to her.  Gah, life can be so complicated sometimes!

And that's why I'm here on this new - and much prettier! - space. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Foodie Friday: Chicky Chicky Parm Parm Casserole (and Some "Meal Planning)"

I had to put "meal planning" in quotations cause . . . it just did not happen this week.  The past couple weeks have been so weird (I had J home AGAIN on Monday of this week and then K1 yesterday) and it's just . . . it's not happening.  I didn't even cook at all until last night!
 
So our "meal planning" looked something like this:
 
Monday: Super Bowl party leftovers
Tuesday: Pork Chop Nachos (with leftover pork chops from the weekend)
Wednesday: Sandwiches (Mark had a work dinner and the kids and I got in soooo late)
Thursday:
 
 
Chicky chicky parm parm casserole!
 
No lie: the only reason I even cooked last night was because I really hadn't the rest of the week (do grilled cheese sammiches count?) It was after 5:00.  I had set chicken out.  I was trying to figure out what the heck to do with it.  I really wanted some comfort food . . . meaning Mexican chicken.  Alas, we had no sour cream.  Chicken parmigiana sounded like a good back up for comfort food.  But that's a lot of work when you're making it for six.  I turned to my friend Ms. Google and found a chicky chicky parm parm casserole. I ran with the idea - following their ideas but basically making it my own - and we ended up with a winner, winner chicken dinner!

{Only picture was from my IG stories!}
 

What You Need:
Chicken breasts, cut into bite sized portions
Garlic Salt
Italian Seasoning
Marinara Sauce
2 cups mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup panko seasoned with garlic salt and Italian seasoning (to taste)

What You Do:
Preheat oven to 350. 
Grease pan and smear the bottom of it with light coating of marinara.  Season chicken bites with garlic salt and Italian seasoning.  Layer on top of marinara.  Add another {HEALTHY} layer of marinara -- the more the better!  Even if you think it might be too much, it's not!  Top with the cheeses.  Add seasoned panko on top.  Bake covered at 350 for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake an additional 15-20 minutes until the bread crumbs are browned.

Most of us really enjoyed this dish (we had a lone kid defector.)  Mark did say he would prefer it over pasta but we all really liked the overall taste.  It's definitely a keeper, we'll just make some tweaks next time it's on the menu.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Thursday Things

1) J was sick all last week.  As in, he missed FOUR days of school.  He felt better by mid-day Friday and I shipped him off to school Monday morning.  I went to class and, when I checked my phone a little later, I noticed a missed call and some texts.  Sigh.  Apparently, J bumped heads HARD with another kid while playing soccer in PE and then threw up afterward.  They placed him on concussion status which meant I had to come pick him up.  I left my class and immediately went to get him all while thinking, "can the kid not catch a break?!?"  Luckily, he was fine.  But SERIOUSLY.

2) Betsy DeVos. I don't even know what to say.  I can't wait to actively campaign against both Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander for voting to confirm her.  Money talks.  Too bad our children have to pay the price.  (Seriously, though, I'm terrified over this.  Especially with having a child with an IEP!)



3) How cute is K2's valentine box?  Totally found the idea on Pinterest!
(If you're not familiar, this is the Poppy Popcorn Shopkin.  Shopkins rule our lives these days.)

4) Let's discuss This is Us.  First off, they filmed in Memphis a couple weeks ago!  I got Mark to agree to watch that episode with me whenever it airs.  I'm hoping to get him sucked into this show too.  Anyway, Jack is still the greatest dad ever.  Randall and William are still adorable.  Kevin is growing on me.  And I swear to Jesus if Kate cheats on Toby with that asshole horse trainer, I will personally mail a glitter bomb to Chrissy Metz.  Yes I will. 

5) The Daddy/ Daughter dance was held at the school last Friday and both girls went with their dads. How gorgeous did they look?


Mark texted me to let  me know it was "a bunch of white dudes dancing with T-Rex arms."  Ha!  They all had fun, though, and it gave me an evening with no girly attitudes.  The boys and I picked up Chickfila for dinner then they refused to watch a movie with me so I read a book while they played Madden.

6) I introduced J to Footloose last week and, um, I kinda forgot about some of the more risqué things in the movie.  "Mom!  I can't believe you're letting me watch this!"

7) I WANT ELIZABETH WARREN TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT IN 2020.  She's a bad ass broad and I would SO wear a "She Persisted" t-shirt.  (And, seriously, no shit about how she "broke a rule" considering two MALE senators were allowed to read the exact same letter without being silenced.  This was personal.)

8) We are on a countdown of only NINE DAYS until Eric Church.  He was in Little Rock over the weekend and apparently he put on a hell of a show.  I can't wait!

9) The kids are out of school tomorrow for teacher in-service and I'm torn between "YAYS SLEEP IN!" and "GIVE ME MY FRIDAY BACK!"  We'll have to see what we can get into . . . (though, honestly, it'll be much less "trip to the park" and much more something like "clean out the pantry")

10) Yep.  Even though I haven't had a phone with a cord in a couple of decades . . . yep.
 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Super Bowl: THE FOOD!

 
How can something that was such a good game end up sucking so bad?  Gah.  That's what happens when the Patriots win!
 
Tom Brady wasn't the real star of the show, though, it was Lady Gaga the food.  (Seriously, though, I was shocked at how much I enjoyed Gaga's performance!  Her voice is beautiful.)
 
But, anyway, let's talk FOOD.  Last year, I gave all the food for the Super Bowl funny football related names. The kids thought that was a tradition we had to continue this year.  I prepped the food and let their imaginations come up with different names. 


 
Dirty Birds, Nacho Super Bowl Tom Brady!, and Cady's meatballs
 
The Dirty birds were chicken wrapped in bacon, the nachos were from SkinnyTaste (and OMG, so good!), and Cady made meatballs that were wrapped in bacon and topped with cheese and a jalapeno.  I might've died and gone to Heaven.
 
Touchdown Dip
This stuff was AMAZING!  I found a couple different recipes online and just kind of mushed them together to come up with this. It will definitely be on repeat in this house because it was so delicious.

What you need:
16 oz sour cream
8 oz ricotta cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese
parmesan cheese
garlic powder
Italian seasoning
diced onion
diced red pepper
pepperoni
marinara sauce
black olives

What you do:
Mix together sour cream, ricotta, 1 cup of mozzarella, parmesan, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, onion, red pepper.  Dice up a few pepperonis and throw those in as well.  (And, I apologize, but I don't measure when I make stuff like this.  I just throw in seasonings that seem like they'll be a good amount.)  Put the mixture into a medium-sized baking dish (I used my corning ware.)  Top with marinara sauce, the remaining mozzarella, more parmesan, pepperoni, and black olives.  Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes until cheese is bubbly.  I served this with pita chips and garlic bread.


First Down Fluff

(We had a little misprint on the card for this one, but it's all good!)

What you need:
1 container Cool Whip
1 package of vanilla pudding
8-10 oreos, crushed

What you do:
Just mix everything together.  It's so simple -- honestly, J and the Girl Child made this, I just supervised -- and it's really yummy!  I served with chocolate graham crackers.


Tom Brady's Dab

So, I'm not sure why exactly the chicken wings were named after Brady's dab but, um, well I just don't know. We'll roll with it though.

What you need:
chicken wing portions
BBQ sauce (Sweet Baby Ray's is my personal favorite)
honey
Frank's Red Hot

Season the chicken wings your preferred method. I always just go classic with some Lawry's.  Place on a pan and broil ten minutes on each side.  Meanwhile, mix BBQ, honey, and Frank's in crockpot.  Transfer wings to crockpot and cook on low for four hours. 

Falcon Fruit

I try to do a fruit and veggie tray for every get together we have.  Just gives a few healthy alternatives to all the junk and the kids KILL the fruit every single time.

Falcon Strength

K1 came up with this name and was very proud.  Carrots, cukes, tomatoes, cheese, and French onion dip.  The container in the background has ranch oyster crackers. 


And, finally, it's just not a Super Bowl party without Tom Brady's tears.  Even though Sunday night those ended up being tears of joy . . .

Monday, February 6, 2017

Gratitude

 
I know I sound like a broken record, but I am so heartbroken at how things are in our country, in the world, right now.  I feel like the last 2+ weeks have been a constant, "what's next?" and people on both sides of the aisle have been downright nasty.  It's just so disheartening.
 
So I decided on a new little project for myself, something that will hopefully become just a habit.  Mark bought me this little notebook (it's a Razorback notebook) for my stocking but forget about it.  He found it last week and gave it to me.  I decided it would be perfect to use as a gratitude notebook.  Every day (I'm hoping!) I'll jot down a few things I'm grateful for.  Just to remind me of the good things in life and that there are SO many things to be thankful for. 
 
A few of the things I've jotted down over the past few days:
 
- An amazing, helpful partner (he was going to take off work to stay with J so I could make class!)
- Understanding professors (aaaaand Mark didn't have to take off because my professor allowed me to take my exam on another day!)
- How much K1 loves to read
- A nice, clean kitchen
- Nights with just the boys
- Weekends
- Friends that are more like family
- Football!
 
Some are a little silly, some not so much.  But I feel so much better when I take a few seconds just to write down what I'm thankful for.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Foodie Friday: Meal Planning

This week went a little off the rails with sick kiddos.  I wasn't able to go grocery shopping and we ended up with Mark picking up ingredients for dinner on his way home a lot. 

Monday

Leftover Chili

Mark made a huuuuuuge pot of chili over the weekend and we had a lot leftover.  We ate some of it Monday night (though three kids ate a bowl of cereal instead . . . a-holes) and then froze the rest.

Tuesday

Grilled Chicken

Tuesday was the day I got nothing done.  I still had to study for a test the next day (which my professor ended up letting me take Thursday instead!  YAY for awesome and understanding professors!)  I set out chicken but had no idea what to do with it.  Luckily, I have an amazing boyfriend who took over and threw it on the grill.

We served with roasted sweet potatoes and salad.

Wednesday

Meatball Subs

This was originally supposed to be just meatballs in red sauce but when I told Mark, "What?  No noodles?" and he decided to pick up sub rolls.  I can't resist me a good meatball sub so I had one too. 

My meatball recipe is nothing special but I'll share anyway:

2 lbs extra lean ground turkey
fresh minced garlic
parmesan cheese
onion powder (I would LOVE to use real onion but . . . picky kids)
2 eggs
1 cup Italian bread crumbs

Mix everything together and shape into small balls.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 15 minutes until golden brown.  For the subs, I then toss them in red sauce (you can let them simmer in the sauce on the stove for a while if, say, you run in three different directions on a Wednesday night and don't eat at the same time) and then place on sub roll with homemade garlic mayo (just minced garlic and mayo mixed together), some of the red sauce, and top with parmesan or mozza cheese.

We served with salad. 

Thursday

Leftover Burgers

We're horrible about wasting our leftovers or letting food go bad and that's AWFUL!  We're trying very hard to use up everything we make or buy.  And, even though we buy the fresh-made pre-formed burger patties from Sam's, Mark seasons them so well that there's NO WAY we could throw them out.  He grilled the burgers Sunday night so it was time for leftovers!

We served with salad and . . . tator tots.  (Sorry not sorry.)

For tonight, the girls have a Father/ Daughter dance.  K2 is going with her dad and the Girl Child is undecided as to whether she's going or doing something else special with her dad.  The boys and I were planning a date as well, Memphis Pizza Café was sounding pretty good!  However, with J being so sick all week, I think we may just pick up Chickfila and watch movies.  Who knows what tomorrow will hold and, well, Sunday is SUPER BOWL (Go Falcons!)  Kendra, Cady, and I originally planned a Skinny Super Bowl Party but, I mean, that was before the Facebook video of the pizza dip so, ya know . . .

Thursday, February 2, 2017

LOVE: A Cute Valentine Craft


I had every intention on writing (yet another) political post today but you know what?  I just don't have it in me.  I'm so disgusted with the turn our country is taking and how so many people just do.not.care.  I'm so disappointed in so many people who profess to be Christian or God-fearing.  I remember back to the presidency of George W. Bush and how he was coined a "compassionate conservative" and I yearn for those days. 
 
What we need right now is . . . love.  Kindness, caring, compassion.  We NEED those.
 
And now I'm going to share a cute little Valentine craft with you that my kids LOVED doing.
 
I have a hallway downstairs that literally has nada on the walls.  I wanted to do kid art on that wall and decided I'd love it were seasonal.  We may update things every year.  We may hang the same paintings every August (or whatever) even when they've grown and flown the nest.  But I wanted to do seasonal kid art.  We did Christmas paintings in December, skipped January (I forgot!), and last weekend got busy on our February art.  Maybe I'll get them hung before the month is over . . . doubt it . . .
 
** We had a sleepover Saturday night which is why you see six canvases instead of four!**
 
I bought canvases at Hobby Lobby and used painters tape to make the word "LOVE" on each one.  The heart was a paper heart taped to each canvas.  I gave the kids paint and brushes and let them go to town.  When they were dry, I pulled the tape off revealing . . . LOVE!
 
 
I LOVE the way they turned out!  The one on the bottom middle is my favorite, so unique!  I use foam brushes ($1.99 for eight at Hobby Lobby and they can be tossed right out) and she went heavy on the water with hers.  It ended up with that cool mosaic look.
 
I can't let this post end without talking about the other, um, art project that happened during this particular sleepover.
 
All the girls were upstairs - I thought watching a movie on the Firestick - when I heard one of my boys yell, "why did you do that to my sister's face?!?"


That's not makeup, y'all, that's SHARPIE MARKER!  OMG!  I was freaking out because we had a sharpie incident a couple months ago that required extensive rubbing alcohol to remove.  The older two did this to the younger two and I was torn between . . . well, at least they did a good job and OH LAWD JESUS, THEY'RE GOING TO LOOK LIKE KINDERGARTEN HOOKERS FOR THE NEXT THREE WEEKS.  Luckily, most of it faded by the next morning.  Hooker crisis averted. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Day in the Life: Like a DAY in the LIFE

Monday morning I had this bright idea: I should take pictures of everything I do on Wednesday and make a day in the life post!  I love a good day in the life post, mainly just looking back on them to see how my life was a year or five ago.  I picked Wednesday because they're good and full but not too full.  Then, well, yesterday happened.  And I have no pictures but, oh my goodness, it's SUCH a day in the life of, like, real life that I at least have to try to document it.

Here we go.

5:40 - Mark's alarm goes off.  We discuss our days, dinner plans, that sort of thing.

6:00 - He gets up, I doze for what I'm hoping is another hour.

6:35 - Ha!  Just hoped it was an hour!  J is up.  He had a headache the night before but is telling me now that he fells better.

6:37 - J is sick.  I text his dad to see if he can keep him for a few hours so I can go to class; I know Mark can't since he's leading an eight hour training.

6:55 - Wake the Girl Child up a little early to finish homework.  K1 pops up - he's awake early too!

6:57 - Start the morning routine: Pour my coffee, set out bowls and spoons, cereal and milk

7:00 - K1 pours his bowl of cereal.  J makes it to the kitchen, deadest on going to school, fixes him a bowl of cereal.

7:05 - Girl Child is downstairs, fully dressed, and working on homework.

7:12 - I start trying to wake up K2.
7:13 - Try again.
7:14 - Try again.
7:15 - "NO I MEAN IT THIS TIME, YOU BETTER GET UP!"

7:17 - Both girls are seated and fixing breakfast as the boys are finishing up.

7:19 - J gets sick again and I tell him he's not going to school.  Check my phone and see a text from his dad: he's at work, already there, and no way he can leave to keep J while I'm in class.  I email my professor.  Think to myself "Oh hey, I can get a lot done today!" (Ha!  Hahahahahaha!  Ha!)

7:30 - 7: 50 - I prepare K2's lunch, help her pick out her clothes for the day, both K1 and the Girl Child finish getting ready for the day.  K2 gets dressed and I fix her hair.

7:50 - K2 complains of a stomachache.  I figure she's jealous because J is staying home and tell her she's getting on the bus.  So sorry.

8:00 - We head outside to wait on the bus; it runs before 8:05.  Woo hoo!  There are days when it's closer to 8:30.

8:15 - Pop some toast in the toaster oven for my breakfast.  J comes in the kitchen and tells me his stomach is hurting so bad.  I go in search of some Pepto then give him a pep talk to get him to take it.  Have an email from my professor telling me not to worry about missing class, just do a couple extra discussion boards to make up participation grade and, oh hey, no big deal, it's inevitable they'll spend most of class discussing the immigration ban (wahhhhh!  I wanna be there to talk about that!)

8:35 - Check my phone to see two missed calls, two voice mails, and a text message.  I check the text first.  It's from Mark: "K2 threw up on the bus and needs to be picked up."  Lawd Jesus! (The other two calls, voice mails were each from him and the school)

8:36 - Throw a bra on, grab my keys and purse, run out the door, drive to the school feeling like the shittiest mother on earth. 

8:50 - Tell the school secretary I'm there to pick my daughter up and she convinces me that we're all, at some point, shittiest mother on earth.

9:00 - Stop at Kroger and stock up on soup, crackers, Ginger Ale, tummy medicine.  And beer-ritas for the mama.

9:10 - We're home and for the next two hours I play the game of "I'm hungry," feeding saltine crackers, then rushing a kid to the bathroom to throw up. 

11:30 - My stomach growls. I look at the clock and realize that I never ate the toast I popped in the toaster oven more than three hours ago and I.am.hungry.  Also?  My coffee is cold.  And not even fun/ the way I like it cold.

11:31 - A kid throws up again.

11:45 - I have J laying down upstairs and K2 settled in front of a movie in the living room.  I change the sheets on my bed, start a load of laundry, and finally - finally - sit down to catch up on the lectures I missed in my class and complete my discussion boards.

11:52 - Both kids, though sick, are starving.  STARVING!  I heat up two different kids of soup -- Frozen shaped chicken and noodles for one and chicken and rice for the other - and remember back in the day when I worked After School Program and also subbed at the same school and one of the snobbier subs said it was no wonder "kids these days" get so sick because "they're mothers don't even make homemade chicken soup anymore."  I've never made homemade chicken soup.  Unless we're counting chicken taco soup which, you know, is a bunch of canned shit thrown in the crockpot.

11:53 - CHICKEN!  I set some out for dinner.

Noon - Both kids are eating and happy for the time being. I, however, smell and am dying for a shower.  Perfect timing (as long as no one throws up!)

12:20 - I'm showered, K2 is watching a movie, J is upstairs playing xbox.  It's a perfect time for me to heat up some leftover chili and catch up on Facebook.

12:22 - I see that the Senate committee approved Betsy DeVos and I lose my appetite.  And also vow to not only vote against - but actively campaign against! -  that *badword* *badword* *badword* Lamar Alexander and as well as anyone he should endorse to fill his seat.

12:25 - 4:00 - NO LIE.  This entire time is spent with me ping pong'ing back and forth between two kids.  K2 felt 110% better and wanted me to play Barbies with her or read Pinkalicious.  J felt awful and wanted me to snuggle with him while he watched football movies (we managed to get in Remember the Titans, The Blind Side, and Greater  -- he loved that one even though "it was so sad, Mom!") I have a test today and needed, needed, NEEDED to study.  But I also know when my kid is sick -- bags under his eyes, extremely pale, overly sensitive.  He needed - and wanted - his mama.  So I tried to snuggle with him as much as possible while taking "study breaks" as he would allow.

4:10 - The other two kids are home

4:10-5:00 - Snacks for the Girl Child, K1 and K2, and then it's time to start homework.  I go through their Tuesday folders.  J is dying to have a snack so I let him have more saltine crackers; he promptly gets sick again.

5:10 - I remember the beerita in the fridge and . . . ahhhhh . . .

5:15 - A few seconds where no one needs me!  I start chopping sweet potatoes so I can roast them for dinner.  I'm interrupted - seriously -  no less than ten times.

5:30 - K1 reminds me he has to read me a chapter in Peter Pan for his homework so we settle in to read.  K2 is listening and keeps reminding us, "that's not what happened!"

5:50 - Mark is home!  Yay!  About an hour-ish later than a normal night because of training and having the company big wigs in town.  He tells me to take my computer and go study in the bedroom; he'll finish dinner.

5:50 - 6:30 - OH GLORIOUS, OH WONDERFUL DAYYYY!  I'M IN MY BEDROOM AND THERE ARE NO CHILDREN AROUND AND I CAN READ WITHOUT BEING BOTHERED!

6:31 - J knocks on the door and tells me his stomach hurts soooo bad but he's also soooo hungry.  I get up and fix him some chicken broth as Mark is putting the finishing touches on dinner and the kids are setting the table.

6:45 - Time to eat!  J only has a cup of chicken broth and wants some of the roasted potatoes and can't stand to see everyone else eat them.  He and I go hang out in the living room to try to distract him.  We play on Snapchat to distract him and he takes sips of the chicken broth every now and then.

7:10 - He's ready for bed so I finally sit down to eat my dinner.

7:11 - Mark's boss calls and he's o-ffici-ally done with dinner.

7:15 - Kids are all done eating and just playing so I send them upstairs so they don't disturb Mark (he's in the living room on the phone.)  For once, they don't argue with me -- probably because they know they don't have to clear off the table or sweep. WIN for them.

*** After the kids go upstairs, I continue eating and Mark has his phone on speaker making it easier to talk to/ listen to his boss while also being on his computer.  At one point, I hear his boss say, "if this whole thing goes awry, not only am I ripping your sack off but I'm going to grill it and make you eat it!"  *Insert wide-eyed emoji* Also?  I'm pretty sure I heard this same conversation the same time last year; something about a year-end report.

7:30 - I'm finished eating so I clear and wipe down the table, load the dishwasher, sweeping the floor will have to wait until tomorrow.

7:40 - J wants me to go lay down with him so I do; inadvertently fall asleep for the next 15 minutes.

7:55 - Hop on my computer to see if I can get any studying done while the kids are still awake. Spoiler: I can't!  I tell them they have 20 more minutes and spend that time signing Tuesday folders, emailing teachers about p/t conferences, trying to find something that starts with a "Y" for K2 to take to Show and Share, etc.

8:15 - BRUSH YO TEETH, GO POTTY, AND GO TO BED! 
FYI: This has to be reiterated (i.e. yelled) at least twenty-two times over the next 15 minutes

8:30 - Ahhhhhh.  I can finally sit down and really, actually study. 

9:00 - Mark lets me know he's going to bed and I apologize that I have to stay up longer (I feel pretty strongly that we should go to bed at the same time but it's really hard with our schedules some nights!)

9:30 - The Girl Child complains of a stomachache (ohnononono - PRAY!)  I give her medicine and send her back to bed.

9:55 - I use precious study time to type out this entry because OH MY GAW it's been a day and it needs to be "recorded" for my own personal history.

Sometime around 11 or 12, I'll head to bed and then the whole day will start over again.  Can we please pray for healthy kids?  And a decent grade on my test?  And for a miracle to occur and Betsy DeVos to not be confirmed?  K?  Thanks.