Thursday, February 4, 2016

Thursday Things

1) I'm really, seriously nervous about the 2016 presidential election and I'm currently undecided as to whether the Iowa caucus made me more or less nervous.  I mean, at least Trump didn't lead the republicans but . . . well, all the candidates still suck.  Worst case scenario is Clinton and Trump in November and I really don't even want to think about that.  I absolutely refuse to vote for Trump, I don't want to vote for Clinton.  Can we please have someone who does not suck swoop in and save the day? 

2) I don't dry jeans.  Like, ever.  My jeans don't go in the dryer.  However, last week I accidentally dried a pair . . . that had never been dried before.  Holy busted can of biscuits when I tried to squeeze into them after the drying incident.  Yikes!

3) That said . . . after a month of hitting the gym at least four days a week, I can get back into a pair of jeans I haven't worn in months and one of my jackets is fitting a lot better.  Yay!  And Mark told me he can see a difference in my body as well.  Now, if only we could stop eating all the things then maybe it would be MORE of a difference.  Spoiler alert: we're probably not going to stop eating all the things.  All the things are good.

4) Such as . . . the soup I made Tuesday night.  I have a habit of screenshotting recipes on my phone so I can't credit this one with where I found the recipe but, trust me, you're going to want to try this!

2 bags frozen cheese tortellini (I only used one bag and - trust me! - you're going to want to use two)
1 lb cooked Italian sausage
3 cups water
6 chicken bouillon cubes
1 large can (30 oz, I believe) crushed tomatoes
1 medium can diced tomatoes (I used the one with basil and oregano)
1 can evaporated milk
1 tbsp. oregano
1 tbsp. garlic
Parmesan cheese

Put everything other than the tortellini in a large pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let it simmer (I did this before heading out to the Y so it simmered the whole time I was working out.)  Add tortellini and once again bring to a boil.  I stirred in about a cup of Parmesan cheese at this point and then added more cheese on top when serving.  I served with garlic bread.

My daughter is SUPER picky and she loved this.  Maybe because Mark played the Abby Cadabby "Tortellini" song as the kids were sitting down to eat but still . . . she ate it and enjoyed it.  I feel like I should also add that this recipe can definitely be halved.  Six of us ate it for dinner one night, everyone going back for seconds, and we still had a little less than half left over.  Makes a ton!

5) We had crazy monsoon type rains and flash flooding on Tuesday.  I'm talking, I couldn't see at all in front of me to drive.  Scary!  Thirty minutes later, the rain had stopped and even though there was water every, every, everywhere it was still 70 degrees!  In February!  Kids had to play outside:

6) My children don't always get along . . . they're kids, payback for my brother and I fighting as kids, all that stuff . . . and they don't always get along with Mark's kids either.  The other night, however, was SUCH a great night.  All the heart-eyed emoji.  The boys and Mark's daughter worked all evening on a cheer for the Super Bowl.  The boys each did a "celebration dance," they did a cheer together, and Mark's daughter ended with cartwheels and the splits.  The whole time she was doing her thing, Jaidan - future dance dad? - was in the background whispering, "bring the sass!  Bring the sass!"  Ha!  Love them, love nights like that.

7) Am I the only one whose Facebook has BLOWN UP with Plexus peddling?  Over it.  It's great if it makes you feel better, gives you more energy, whatever.  But, for the love, quit making health claims over it.  Jeez.

8) Song Love:

9) Kidversation:
"Karis, what do you want to be when you grow up?"

10) I don't even know what a "trap song" is but I do know that Mark and I gave quite the performance of "Regulators" last week.  Our kids weren't so much speechless and, you know, rolling their eyes.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

It was in the 70's in JANUARY and I Didn't Sit on a Patio Once!

Like pretty much everyone else in the US, we had some AMAZING weather over the weekend.  I was driving Friday afternoon with the windows down and it felt like spring.  Made me so happy.

We really should've taken advantage of the fabulous weather and being completely kid-free Friday night and found a patio.  But, alas, wasn't to be.  Mark had a call with his boss at 7 that ended up being pushed back to 9.  And you know what?  We're kind of old and going out after 9?  Not happening.  Anfrunny made us nachos and we settled in to watch Creed again.  I still can't believe we had a kid-free night and didn't really DO anything! 

We were SO LAZY Saturday. I'm talking ... the Syfy channel did a Jaws marathon and we watched the first three. With a two hour nap also thrown in there!  And, again, why weren't we outside soaking up the sunshine and 70's?!?  We'll (inevitably) get another snowstorm in a couple weeks and I'll (inevitably) end up bitching about it.  And, yet, I spent a 70 degree Saturday watching Jaws 3 . . .

That night we headed to Horn Lake because Aquanet was playing.  We really enjoyed the band when we saw them a couple months ago and thought it would be fun to see them again.  Groupies?  We went to the Thirsty Lizard first and met up with Dennis and Anfrunny there.  When we left, I made Anfrunny ride in the booster seat because . . . why not?

We made our way over to Dan McGuiness just as the band was getting started.  How can you not appreciate an 80's cover band that plays all the power ballads?

We ended up having a great night. The band was awesome.  The company was good. I ordered fried cheese and fried green beans (I was hungry!) and both were amazing. Our bartender was a straight up bitch but not everyone can have my amazing personality. ;)

Fun night!  Made up for us flaking on doing anything Friday night.

Sunday was the usual stuff -- running errands, Sam's and Aldi, straightening up, that sort of thing.  That evening we headed over to Russell and Kathy's to "watch the Pro Bowl" which was really just code for drink beer and talk without five kids running around (only one child this time around!)   It was a fun evening.

Such a great weekend!  And I can't wait for the one coming up.  I do appreciate the Super Bowl . . . the game and the commercials and all that.  But, man, if I don't just really REALLY love the food and prep and everything that goes into it.  I can't wait to be knee deep in some beer weenies and sliders!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Favorite Things: January

I'm going to try to get in the habit of doing a "favorite things" post the last Friday of every month. Which means, ya know, this will probably be the first and only!

Favorite Moment:

Hands down, easily, it was the Liberty Bowl on January 2nd. Tailgating, a Hog win, my favorite guy: it was an awesome day!

Favorite Book:
I only read three this month but What Alice Forgot was easily the best. Liane Moriarty is one of my favorite authors and this book was no exception.  I really like how it made me think about how those early years of child-rearing tend to harden us and, frankly, turn our lives upside down. 

Favorite Movie/ TV Show:
Creed! I was surprised I enjoyed it as much as I did. I mean, all props to Rocky but I've just ... never been that much into it. Plus, it's been ages since I've seen the movies. Loved Creed, though!

Favorite New Recipe:
The butter pound cake I made Mark for his birthday tasted great right after I pulled it out of the oven and got even better over the following days.  I used Paula Deen's recipe and it is SO definitely a keeper!

Favorite Song:
I find holy redemption when I put this car in drive . . . roll the windows down and turn my the dial . . . Can I get a hallelujah, can I get an amen . . .

Favorite Kid Moments:
Jaidan: A conversation in the car just last evening between him and Mark's daughter. He has a crush on a girl at the Y; Mark's daughter goes to school with her.  He was instructing her to talk to the girl for him.  "Tell her the boy in the blue shirt thinks she's cute.  BUT DO NOT TELL HER I'M NINE!"  It just gave me a vision of how things are going to be when they're 16.
Kyan: "Look, Mom!  I'm getting those lines on my forehead now too!" 
Karis: She's taken to calling me "my cute little Mommy" and saying, "I'm going to love you forever, my cute little Mommy!" 

Favorite Meme/ Picture/ Time Waster from Social Media:
My friend Casey will randomly text this and it always makes me laugh. 

This is a close second though:

Favorite Pictures:

Random Favorites:
- Jalapeno Pringles.  Yeah, yeah, I'm supposed to be eating right but I have always loved these things and have renewed my love for them over the past few weeks.  Nom, nom.
- Denver beating Tom Brady and the Patriots AGAIN.
- This year's Super Bowl match-up.  Go Peyton!  Go Cam!  Give us a good game!
- Sunday mornings.  One of these days we'll actually follow though on our resolution to find a church but, for now, Sunday mornings have been lazing in bed for a bit then getting up to make a nice, big breakfast.  Love it.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thursday Things

1) Do you ever have those weeks that feel busy even though they really aren't?  My week, this week.  I'm still adjusting to going to the gym in the evenings (I try to go Monday, Tuesday, Thursday nights) as well as balancing dinner, homework, etc.  Tuesday night was kind of crazy.  Mark had a late-ish dentist appointment so I picked his daughter up, took all four kids to the Y with me.  We got home and I showered then got started on dinner.  Helping with homework while cooking and, before I knew it, it was after 7:30 and dinner was JUST finishing up.  I like to eat around 6!  It definitely takes balance and a little sacrifice to get in those evening workouts. 

2) This week's treadmill reading was a book I downloaded a year or so ago and just got around to reading, You Are One of Them by Elliot Holt.  I finished the book Monday night and felt . . . I don't know how I felt.  I guess, disappointed, maybe?  I felt like the book could've and should've been a lot more but it fell really flat to me.  The book begins during the early 80's, in the height of the Cold War, and maybe that was part of my issue.  I was born in 1980: I remember "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" and the fall of the Berlin Wall.  But I don't really have any strong feelings about the Cold War.  I don't remember living in fear of nuclear war.  And maybe the book would've hit me differently if I had been born five or ten years earlier, who knows.  I didn't care - at all - for the way the book ended; it really left some unanswered questions though that possibly could've been in order for the reader to form their own conclusion.  Anyway, it was an interesting book.  Since finishing it, though, I had to start something lighter and easier to read.

3) My kids are OBSSESSED with Minecraft.  Even Karis!  If they're not playing it, they're talking about it or watching YouTube videos of other people playing it.  Kyan and Mark's son would both rather play Madden but are still all about the Minecraft.  It's crazy how much it's taken over the minds of these kids.  My kids are only allowed to play video games/ tablets on weekends so it seems like their weekends are Minecraft-centered.  Ahhhhhh.  Drives me crazy.

4) Current pet peeve: I'm so so so so so so tired of seeing pictures people post on social media where they've obviously applied some kind of app to even out their skin tone, make themselves look better, whatever.  It's like . . . no one has skin THAT glorious unless you're Cam Newton so please just stop.

5) Russell and Kathy invited us to dinner last night -- they claimed to miss the kids. Since the guys had made all the plans, I asked Mark if we needed to bring anything. "I told Russell I'd bring wine for the ladies. So a bottle of Pinot Grigio for Kathy and a six-pack of Miller Lite for you."

(And just because it's too cute -- a pic of the girls modeling Kathy's shoes and scarves)

6) Speaking of beer ... we generally buy cases of the 16-oz tall boys. They fit nicely in a koozie and are just ... right. So, in the event that we do have to get 12-ouncers, we refer to those as a flight. 

"You got a flight of beer again?"
"Sorry, babe, all they had at the gas station."

Love being with someone who GETS me. 

7) Kendra got a new puppy and we're hopefully going to see him tonight. He's pretty much all Karis will talk about since she's seen his picture. Every time we get in the car: "are we going to Kendra's? I need to see Hercules! Awww, that's a cute name." Must get this girl a dog! Actually, we all want a dog (which speaks a lot for me/ my kids. I was so anti-pet for so long but I think I was more anti-something else to take care of) but pets are harder to deal with when renting.

8) We were in the car the other morning when two things happened on the radio.  First, the DJ was interviewing a guy and said something like, "you're not a young man.  What are you?  32, 33?" and that was like a serious punch in the gut.  I'm older than that and certainly still think of myself as being young.  Let's not mention that I'll be on the pushing 40 side of my mid-30's come May.  Since when is 32 or 33 not young?!?  The interview went almost right to playing the song "Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On," a strange pick for this particular station. And, all the sudden, I felt every bit of the pushing 40 side of my mid-30's.  Because, really.  It should've been my dad in the front seat, turning the volume up because he hadn't heard that particular song in a long time.  And me in the back, forehead pressed against the window, and rolling my eyes at the raise in volume of a "dumb" song.  How the HECK am I going to be 36 in a few months when it's still, like, 1985?!?  Jeez.

9) Yesterday was the 100th day of school.  (Or so I thought. Apparently it was actually today!) Karis was supposed to bring in 100 objects in a paper bag so we chose to go with hearts.  I wish they got to dress up like someone who is 100-years-old but at least she got to have a fun day full of 100 themed activities.

10) For next weekend!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Snow(Ish) Weekend

I typed up a whole entire post Sunday night and somehow lost the whole thing -- all words and pictures -- except the title.  And it's not even a good title!  Ugh.

So, the weekend went something like this . . .

Thursday was Mark's birthday.  The man loves him some steak so, of course, that's what he wanted for his birthday.  There are two things Brandi doesn't do when it comes to cooking:

1) Chop onions.  I mean, I will chop onions if I'm the only one around to do so but I cry like a baby when doing so.  I don't know if I'm just super sensitive to them or what but it's annoying.  Luckily, I have a boyfriend who will do it for me most of the time and has even gone so far to say he thinks it's "cute" that I can't chop 'em.  Will he still think it's cute when he's the one chopping the onions in 15, 20 years?  Time will tell.

2) Grill.  Again, it's something I CAN do.  I just prefer not to.  Especially if we're talking about meat with a bone in it.  So I stay away from throwing steak on the grill.

Thursday night was nasty.  A snow storm was predicted for the following day and the temperatures were falling.  NOT the best weather for grilling.  So we headed to La Hacienda instead . . . wherein the Birthday Boy was able to have a steak and cheese enchiladas.

School was called off for Friday.  In fact, they called off before any wintery precip even began to fall.  #becauseSOUTH.  I had already arranged to work from home, my kids were with their dad for the weekend. so it was just me and Mark's daughter for most of the day.  She played outside a little but, honestly, the snow was kind of disappointing.  We were predicted 4-6 inches and ended up getting just a dusting.  Not enough for snowmen and the snowball fights were half-hearted. 

Mark requested only two things for his birthday -- an electric hand mixer (seriously) and a butter pound cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting "the kind my Grandma used to make."  Friday afternoon, we set out on a mission to recreate that pound cake.  Check out this gloriousness . . .

This was taken BEFORE I took it out of the pan and some of it stuck.  Because of course.  Blah.  The good news is, it was super moist and tasted really good.  The birthday boy either loved it or he loves me and wasn't going to say anything negative about it!

Our Friday night was very low-key.  The cake, steaks on the grill, a few drinks, and then an early bedtime.

Saturday, we ran errands.  We were in the checkout line at Academy when I noticed a bag of Beanboozled jelly bellies.  I knew we HAD to get them.  The kids were super excited and, after dinner, we settled in to get Beanboozled.  It was seriously SO FUNNY.  I could not stop laughing.  I didn't participate much -- there's no way I wanted to end up tasting barf or sweaty socks but I did have a baby wipe flavored one.  Disgusting.

Sunday was a BIG, HUGE, BIGGER THAN BIG day.

The Broncos were playing the Patriots, winner to head to the Super Bowl!

But, first, my own children had to get Beanboozled!

Kyan didn't get a single "bad" one and J got ALL bad ones!  It was too funny.

Kyan hadn't seen Mark's son in a couple weeks and playing football in the alley seemed to take precedence over watching football in the living room. He did manage to get into the last quarter of the game and there was one happy Bronco in the house Sunday afternoon.

After that game it was time for the Cardinals/ Panthers.  We didn't really have a dog in this fight -- other than the fact that I think Cam Newton is a beautiful man (he looks Photoshopped!) but we were happy with the result.  It's going to be a great Super Bowl! 

The only sad thing about the upcoming Super Bowl is that it means no more football for months and months.  And months.  What're we gonna dooooo?!?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Thursday Things

1) This guy has a birthday today!

I won't tell you how old he is because if you ask him he'll tell you, zero hesitation, "26," so we'll go with that.

He's my safe place, my rock, my love.  I'm so thankful he came into my life . . . and so thankful he came into the world 26(-ish) years ago! 

2) Part of his birthday present was the Tool/ Primus concert in Southaven Tuesday night.  

I could not give a single solitary care about Tool and had never heard of Primus before he brought up the concert.  So he went with friends and I hung out with these guys:

3) Notice how they're wearing their jammies inside out?  They also flushed ice cubes and slept with spoons under their pillows, hoping for a snow day.  Didn't happen!

4) However.  Sleet and snow are both back in the forecast this evening and I think this one might actually happen.  Remember when it was 75 degrees on Christmas Eve and we thought we were going to have a mild winter?  *Side eye*

5) Several weeks ago, I recorded a couple "American Scandals," an ID show with Barbara Walters.  The other night, I (finally) had the chance to watch the Jon Benet episode.  And . . . I just have to say . . . it's amazing and terrifying how much the Ramsey's got away with just by being rich.  The Boulder police like to throw around terms like "the community didn't know anything about kidnapping and murder" but, let's be real, if they were poor people they would've been arrested immediately and currently rotting in prison. 

I have no idea what happened to that little girl, maybe one of these days we'll know, but the evidence points to the parents being involved in some way.  It's such a travesty of justice that their wealth allowed them an "out" in the justice for that poor girl.

6) People.  If you support Trump just keep in mind: Sarah Palin endorsed him.  SARAH PALIN.  That's all you need to know.  

7) Resolution check!  I'm KILLING IT with going to the gym.  Last week, I made it six days in a row and, barring any bad weather, I should be able to do six again this week.  The church resolution . . . well, we were out of town the first weekend (though we did go to church!) and last weekend, we were dealing with a plumbing emergency on Sunday morning.  We'll see what this week brings.

8) I like to read while I'm on the treadmill.  It makes the time go faster if I just prop my iPad up and get sucked into a book.  I finished Liane Moriarty's What Alice Forgot yesterday.  I started reading it well over a year ago and didn't get into it initially.  Why?  Why, why, why?  It's a GREAT book.  And it really makes you think . . . think about just how much life in general can drag you down and change you in your 30's.  Highly recommend

9) My daughter seems to have a crush on a little boy in her class.  EVERYTHING these days is about Christopher.  We made cupcakes last night and guess who she claimed one for?  Everything is all about what she thinks he's doing, what he did at school that day, "Do you know he has a baby sister?"

10) But where's the bottle of wine?!?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Some Things about Divorce

I debated whether or not to write this post but, in the end, decided it might help someone out a little bit.  So here it is.  Just a few things about going though the Big D (and don't mean Dallas.)

I saw this the other day and I both agree and disagree with it.  On the one hand, any time a family is busted up, it IS in fact a tragedy.  However, there's a lot of truth in the second statement.  Children deserve happy parents, they deserve to know what a good and strong relationship is and how it works.

That said.  Here we go . . .

1) It's HARD.

Here's the deal.  I was the one to initiate my divorce.  It was something that had been a long time in the making.  I was done.  D-O-N-E DONE. 

However.  The actual process was really, really hard.  I can't imagine how much harder it would've been if I had not been the one to initiate our breakup.  You are literally ending things with the person you promised to love, honor, and cherish "until death do us part."  It made me feel like a complete and utter failure, especially since I had been married only five years.  To put things in perspective: my great-grandparents were married 74 years, my grandparents 59, and my own parents (who did eventually divorce) 25!  I felt like I failed my family and my children.  And it was HARD.  There's no other word for it and the caps are necessary.

2) It's emotionally taxing.

Perhaps I went into the whole thing a little na├»ve.  I expected it to be emotional.  What I didn't expect was just how emotional it was going to be.  I guess this goes right along with the whole "it's hard" thing.  But "hard" can encompass a lot of different things; I had no idea just exactly HOW emotionally taxing divorce would be.  For instance, it was emotional just splitting up our assets.  And I'm not talking the BIG assets like house and bank accounts.  I'm talking about the smaller things like furniture and, "do you want the grill?"  Those were things accumulated over the course of a marriage, things we bought together and, for whatever reason, it just made things even more real when it was time to disperse them amongst us.

3) If you have to do a parenting class, it will be one of the most depressing things you will ever sit through.

Yeah, so.  In the state of Tennessee (and I think in most states) you have to do a parenting class if you have minor children.  The one I went to lasted about three hours and was in a "discussion" type format.  The instructor was very nice but I was not comfortable discussing one of the most personal things in my life (the actual details of my divorce/ the breakup of my marriage) with complete strangers.  Honestly, I don't really feel like I learned a whole lot from the class -- my ex-husband and I get along fairly well.  But I left it feeling super depressed.  It was combination of the stories from other people in the class (the guy who sat next to me didn't have a parenting plan in place yet.  His ex was being difficult and he could only see his children when he went to their schools to have lunch with them!) and the statistics of what happens to children from broken homes. 

4) Kids are resilient.

Yeah, regardless of anything I heard in the parenting class I can definitely vouch for this one: kids are resilient.  Yes, it's hard for them.  It can be very hard for them.  But they adapt and they learn and they come around.  It's harder on certain kids.  One of my children had a very tough time in the beginning; the other two weren't phased at all (a lot of this could have to do with age.) 

5) Compromise is key.  Compromise, compromise, compromise!

And actually it's the "compromise" thing that can make things so emotionally taxing.  For example, I won't have my children this year on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  I won't get to see my children on Christmas on even years.  And that breaks my heart.  I'm going to be a complete and total mess  come early morning of December 25th.  But they need that time with their dad and, on odd years, they'll wake up with me on Christmas morning.  We had to meet in the middle on that one and on practically every other holiday.  And I'm lucky enough that he agreed to let me see them every year on their birthdays regardless of whose turn it is to have them. 

6) If you can be amicable, you'll save yourself so much grief (and money!)

We literally sat down at the kitchen table and dispersed our assets.  We did the same with our parenting plan.  Yeah, we had to compromise on things.  But we were able to amicably hammer out the agreement between ourselves which kept attorney fees to a minimum and saved us from mediation as well. 

7) You'll feel judged.

You wouldn't think you would feel so much disdain given that we live in a world where so many marriages do end in divorce.  But, yeah, it's there.  The judgment.  People who have never been through a divorce don't seem to understand that we're not all Kim Kardashian or Britney Spears.  There were times - there still ARE times - when I see someone who has never gone through much grief or strife in their marriage say things about how they'd never divorce, marriage is forever, JUST WORK ON IT, YOU ASSHOLES.  And I want to punch them.  They have NO IDEA.  Most people don't just wake up one morning and think, "Well, golly gee, that asshole let the toilet seat up again and didn't pick his socks up off the bedroom floor.  Imma go get me one of them there divorces!"  No.  Things are much more complicated than that and if you've never been divorced, odds are you don't GET it.

8) I felt oddly conflicted over my name.

I have friends who have been through a divorce and went back to their maiden name.  And I always thought, "why would you do that?  Why wouldn't you want your name to stay the same as your kids?"  Now that I'm on the other side . . . I get it.  And I felt very conflicted on whether I wanted to keep my married name (a name that doesn't feel like "mine" but one I share with my children) or go back to the name I was given at birth.  In the end, I decided to keep my married name.  Mainly because it IS the same name as my children and, honestly, the thought of going through the hassle of changing everything back just didn't seem worth it.  Plus I have a brother and he has two boys of his own: my maiden name will live on for a couple more generations at least. 

9) Divorce changes the way you view marriage.

Meaning: while I could maybe entertain the thought of getting married again, going though the emotional turmoil of another divorce completely clouds how I view marriage.  When my ex and I were discussing whether or not I'd change my name, he said something like "yeah, no use going through changing it when you'll just have to do it all again when you get remarried."  Wait.  What?  Uhhhhh.  We were in the middle of a divorce and the LAST thing in the world I was thinking about was getting remarried.  Now that I'm in a happy relationship, the marriage question seems to come up a lot.  People around us drop everything from little hints to out right saying things like, "y'all better hurry and put a ring on it!"  Honestly, though, I have a committed relationship that's full of love and trust.  We're not having any children together.  Marriage isn't something I feel like I HAVE to have. 

10) It really will be okay.

Even though it is emotionally taxing, I really do believe getting to the point of divorce is harder than the actual divorce.  I remember telling a friend once that I felt guilty because I was more emotional about the ending of a relationship where I wasn't married than by my divorce . . . my divorce from a man that I was MARRIED to and had CHILDREN with.  It didn't make sense.  She told me, "that's because you don't just end a marriage.  Once you're to the point of divorce, you know you've tried as hard as you possibly can, you know you've done everything."  Solid advice and truth.  And once you get to the point of divorce, you've gone through the hardest part.  And when you keep that in mind, you know you'll be okay. 
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