Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Finish Line

Closing on our house the last day of school seemed like a great idea ... until these last two weeks. It's still a great idea. The kids will have all summer to acclimate to our new neighborhood. But I am run ragged!

We close on our house tomorrow (!!!!!) I have a lot to write about in the coming weeks but, honestly, I have no idea when that will happen. Right now we're just focusing on limping to the finish line ... of moving and the end of the school year. 

Next time I write, I'll be a homeowner! Now if only I can keep my sanity the next few days ...

Monday, May 23, 2016

Thirty Six!

I love birthdays. Even as I get older, I still love my birthday even if I can't get excited about the age I'm turning. It's just a special day. I try to make birthdays special for my kids and, not gonna lie, I enjoy being spoiled as well.

I had a really bad day on Wednesday. Really bad. Like, it ended with me in tears telling Mark that a certain person in my life always tries to ruin my birthday, I shouldn't bother getting excited, all that. Basically, I was a whiny little baby. 

Thursday, though, my actual birthday, was amazing. Mark doesn't go into work as early on Thursdays so he was able to surprise me with breakfast in bed. 

Kolaches from our favorite donut shop. Yummy! I love kolaches!

I had to work Thursday but my boss gave me balloons and a bottle of wine and took me to Huey's for lunch. 

The absolute best part of the day: Mark called a little after lunch to let me know we had the final approval on our mortgage and, not only that, closing costs were wayyyyy lower than we had anticipated! We had been stressed for a few weeks so this was amazing news. And perfect timing too!

Karis insisted on opening my present. I don't think she was expecting a bottle of wine. Ha!

Our friend Anthony was nice enough to come sit with the kids so Mark and I could have what I really wanted for my birthday ... time alone. Since we have one kid 100% of the time and three others about 85% of the time, that's a rarity for sure. A month or so ago I told Mark all I wanted for my birthday was to go to dinner just the two of us. 

So that's exactly what we did! We went to La Hacienda for two reasons. First, I was craving Mexican. And, second, it's our favorite in this neighborhood and we'll really miss it (and our favorite server Gladys!) when we move. The meal was delicious but the best part was just spending time with my man. 

After dinner, we went home and had cake with the kids. (They insisted on the "Brandi" candles.)

I wanted to write about my birthday not because we did anything extraordinary or threw a big party or anything. But because I felt so loved. So, so loved.  My kids told me "happy birthday!" about a billion times. Karis even told her teacher, "it's my mom's birthday and she's 16 today!" And Mark is just ... he's wonderful. He wished me a happy birthday every time he called or texted (we're in the middle of buying a house so we end up talking on the phone multiple times per day.) He secured a babysitter so we could go to dinner. I told him I wanted no presents but he surprised me with this:


He just really set out to make sure that my day was my day and that it was a great one. That's not something I'm used to and it's a gift in itself to be in a relationship with someone as sentimental as I am. 

So no fancy party ... just cake with the kids. No extravagant travels ... just chili rellenos (it's my birthday and I'll go for the deep fried if I want to!) at our favorite Mexican joint. And it was absolute perfection. Best birthday yet!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Home (Bitter) Sweet Home

I haven't been all that emotional about moving out of my house. There are several reasons. I've been pretty much living at Mark's for a few months now, literally almost never actually at my house and, when I am, it's only for small bits of time. Plus, I'm SUPER excited about our new house and moving in with the love of my life to something that's "ours." And then there's the fact that there are just plain old bad memories in my current home. So, no, there's not a lot of sadness when it comes to leaving it.

(All photos in this post were taken in or at my house. I had to post this one because I'm pretty sure it's the only time my pawpaw ever visited!
He came for Kyan's birthday and to meet Karis.)


There's always a however!

The other day I was taking the kids to school (that's conveniently right behind our old house) and stopped at the stop sign at the end of the road. Directly across from me was the fountain the kids and I used to walk to everyday to feed the ducks. And suddenly I just had all these emotions wash over me. 

This is the house I brought my daughter home to. 
This is where we sat at the kitchen table and made bajillions of crafts. 
It's where I've cooked tons of meals, where little hands "helped" make brownies and cookies and the fudge at Christmastime. 

It's where we've decorated for Christmas and woke up every single Christmas morning since 2009. 
Countless Popsicles have been devoured while running through the sprinkler on hot summer days. 
We've watched the Bellevue fireworks from our cove for more years than I can remember. 

We've caught lightening bugs. Walked hundreds - maybe thousands! - of miles on morning and evening walks exploring our neighborhood. We've gone trick-or-treating dressed as pirates and bats and princesses and superheroes. 

We've made memories here. GOOD memories. 

And, so, while I'm 99% excited and ecstatic to move it's a tiny bit bittersweet as well. This is the first home any of my babies remember, the home where so many of their memories were made. I can't WAIT for the next chapter to unfold. I know it holds amazing things!  But there's still a twinge of sadness as this chapter closes. I can't say I'll miss the house but I will always hold dear the sweet memories and the good times. 

And can't even express how excited I am for more good times and sweet memories at our new address!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Thursday Things

1) Today is my birthday. I'm 36! As with every birthday as I get older, I'm wondering how the heck this happened.
I remember turning 24 and realizing I was just as close to 30 as I was from 18. And now I'm on the downhill slide to the big 4-0. Jeez!

2) We're not really doing anything for my birthday since, ya know, we're BUYING A FREAKING HOUSE next week. The girls and I did whip up an Oreo (my fave!) bundt cake last night. We'll try it tonight and, if it's worth anything, I'll share the recipe. 

3) Can I brag on my kid?

He brought his reading level up TWELVE levels this school year! He won the award for his book club and is only a level below where his big brother is right now. This kid LOVES to read and he's kicking booty at it!

4) That said ... I know kids can forget up to 50% of the skills they learn over the summer. We've already discussed going very light on electronics this summer. We'll have a pool; they're going to want to swim more than play on tablets. Hopefully. But we also want to make sure to incorporate as much reading as possible. I don't have a definite game plan yet - always up for suggestions! - but I'm thinking they can earn pool/ screen time by reading. We'll see. I loved to read when I was a kid so it's a little foreign to me to have to actually provide incentive to get kids to do one of my favorite things!

5) I saw this the other day and, man, it's some truth. I wish more people operated this way. 

Co-parenting is hard and, if I'm being completely honest, there are some days I REALLY need to keep this in mind. 
6) Today is my last day to physically go in to work a full day at my job. Working from home worked okay last summer so, thankfully, she's letting me give it a go again this year. Next week we'll be crazy busy with reward ceremonies and end of school activities which is why I won't be in the office (much) that week. 

7) Speaking of end of school activities ...

These two cuties had a class picnic on Tuesday (Kyan) and field day on Wednesday (Karis.) I even got to stop by for a few minutes of field day!

Both boys have field day tomorrow and J's field trip is Friday.

8) My hair is naturally wavy and not cute wavy either. It frizzed out and is generally just a mess. I have to dry and straighten it into submission. I bought a sea salt spray for it the other day thinking I could possibly embrace the waves. 


No embracing. 

No waves for me! 

9) Song Love!

10) Again ... Why, God, why?!?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


It was BBQ Fest weekend in Memphis! Guess how many times we were downtown, enjoying the thick smell of BBQ in the air ...

Exactly zero. None! We didn't make it at all this year. The thing is, BBQ Fest is really fun if you know someone on a team and can hang out in their tent. Our "in" is Russell and his son graduated from high school Friday night. Therefore, his time was all tied up in graduation festivities and not on BBQ. So what did we do?

We held our own BBQ fest!

We got things started Thursday night. Mark smoked four pork shoulders (two were for Russell), two chickens, and a brisket. We're good on smoked meat for a while! 

Mark took the day off Friday. It was so nice to spend some quality (and kid-free!) time together. We walked his daughter to school, finished smoking the meat, then made our way to a graduation lunch. I will turn 36 later this week and, let me tell ya, it was surreal listening to those high school seniors talk about post-graduation plans. Like, that should still be me! I should be one of them!

After the party, we decided to drive by our new house and check out the neighborhood some more. We found the nearest Kroger, Aldi, Sam's, restaurants we want to try, things like that. 

Friday ended with this ... BBQ chicken pizza! Earlier in the week, I told Mark I wanted him to smoke a chicken just because I wanted a BBQ chicken pizza with "red onions and cheddar cheese." Not only did he deliver on the smoked chicken, he also made the pizza!

And provided entertainment. ;)

Saturday afternoon, I put together a strawberry pie. I love strawberry season and a strawberry pie is one of my favorite things ever. Yummy!

I picked my kids up mid-afternoon and they hadn't even been there two hours when this happened ...

Baby Girl had some major shark teeth going on and the baby tooth just was.not. coming out. I don't do loose teeth so she let Mark pull it. WITH PLIERS!

She was so proud! She kept showing everyone and thanking and hugging Mark. 

Now for the dork portion of our Saturday night. We're in the process of buying a house so we're having to be more careful about the money we spend. You can buy a mix and match six pack of "fancier" beers at Kroger for $9 so we did that and made our own "flights." Considering there's no way we could get out of a brewery for less than ten bucks, we'll call it thrifty!

Jason and Kendra came over Saturday evening. We played a few rounds of corn hole, the guys popped firecrackers to scare the kids, and Jason and I worked on converting Mark to an Eric Church fan (no luck!)

The weather turned off cooler and absolutely beautiful for the weekend. It won't be long until it's stifling hot here ("it's not the heat, it's the humidity!) so Sunday we took advantage of the 70 degrees and walked/ rode bikes to the park. 

When you take seven people with all different personalities and blend them into a family together, there's usually going to be at least one person who is grumpy or whiny or just plain not happy at the moment. But, for a slice of Sunday afternoon, Mark and I pushed the kids on the swings and everyone was laughing, enjoying, happy. Love moments like that! (Especially since approximately ten minutes later, Karis fell off her bike then cried the whole way home!)

We ended the evening with Pie Face (kids still love it!) and smoothies. And I was in bed by 8:30! Getting old and stuff!

Monday, May 16, 2016


There were a lot of reasons we chose to brunch at Crio while in Chicago but the biggest of those? Pulled pork loaded fries on their menu. Um, yum! Unfortunately, those fries weren't on the brunch menu but what we did have was amazing. 

First, though, let's talk service. The restaurant wasn't very crowded so the server, who was very nice, was able to give us a lot of attention. She wasn't overbearing or anything but, for the most part, kept our bottomless mimosas ... bottomless. My only complaint is that you could tell there became a point when the staff was ready for us to leave. Yes, we'd been there for a while but it's not like we were loud or unruly. 

Now, foooooood. 

People, this place was delicious. 

I had an omelet ... that was stuffed in a poblano pepper! I texted Mark pretty much immediately and told him this is something we MUST try to recreate. It was so good, just the right amount of heat, and the accompanying breakfast potatoes really complimented the dish. 

D had the chilaquiles and Mo had the torta de carne asada. Both were delicious but I still think my dish was the best! ;)

 Bottom line: this was probably the best meal we ate in Chicago. It's away from downtown but that keeps the crowd to a minimum. I'd love to go back on a weeknight and try their more extensive menu!  The price point was perfect, too, and we left feeling full and happy.  I'll definitely be back!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Thursday Things

1) This week is kicking my butt!  I'm trying not to feel too overwhelmed with everything going on but that's hard to do.  I just keep reminding myself that it will all be worth it in a couple short weeks when we're in our new house!

2) I went with the kindergarteners to the zoo on Tuesday.  I had Karis and her little friend with me and they were both sooooo good.  The little boy had only been to the zoo once; Karis goes all the time.  So I encouraged her to let him kinda lead the way in what we were seeing.  She was really good about it and very agreeable.  "I want to go see the zebras."  "Yeah!  Zebras!  I love zebras!"

The mama orangatang was holding her baby!  This prompted the little boy with us to say, "yeah, and the daddy is probably asleep somewhere."  Ha!

Yes, I caught the turtles doin' it.  And yes, I took a picture of it.  On a kindergarten field trip.

3) My Kykers turned EIGHT on Monday.  Eight!  One of my favorite birthday traditions is going to the school to have lunch with them on their birthday.  Let me tell you, second graders are THE BEST.  Why have I not been going up there for lunch all year long?  "You're so pretty, Kyan's Mom!'  "I like your dress, Kyan's Mom!"

4) This time of year is so expensive, I swear!  It's almost as bad as the beginning of the school year.  Every time I turn around I'm paying for a field trip or pictures or I need to send in this for the class picnic, they need a new shirt for field day.  Then there's buying teacher appreciation gifts and, believe me, we certainly appreciate the teachers my children have.  This has been the very, very best year for teachers so far.  They've all three had really great ones.

5) If you haven't already, go read the comments on this picture.  Go now!  "Pawpaw's moose knuckle."  I DIE.

6) That's all I have this week!  Last week I was bit by the blogging bug and managed to crank out a post every single day.  This week is just . . . it's not happening.  I'm hoping when we're moved and settled that I'll be able to really get back in the swing of things.  I love writing and I love documenting our life. 
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