Thursday, June 30, 2016

Thursday Things

1) My kiddos come back home today!  Man, I'm ready to have them here.  (Though I'm sure it will take approximately four hours before one of them is on my nerves again!)  This 15 days is the longest I've been away from them and I'm just . . . not a fan.  I know their time with their dad is important too soooooo I just suck it up.  But, still, very glad that they'll be back today and, not only that, but we'll have all seven of us under one roof.  Yay!

2) Since this summer is so crazy (and kind of stupid) with who is going to be where and when, I bought this calendar for 20 bucks at TJ Maxx (and I had a gift card so it was free for me!)  Hopefully it will keep us straight and cut down on the "when is _____ going to be here?" questions.



3) Just had two kiddos until today.  I originally planned to try to do something fun with them every afternoon but, well, greatest of intentions and all that mess.  We did  manage to make it over to Jerry's Sno Cones yesterday though.  Mmmm.  Good stuff!


I had the mango tango supreme . . . YUM!

4) I have two girlfriends - and their kiddos - coming in to town tomorrow to hang out with us for the holiday.  I CAN'T WAIT!  We're going to have the best time!  I last saw Mo in April but I haven't seen Mari in . . . I can't even remember!  The last time I went to NOLA?  Let's just say it's been a while.  Our plans for the weekend mostly consist of laying by the pool, sipping cocktails, and eating all the things.

5) Not only do I have that to look forward to but Mark and I are both off all next week.  No work for either one of us!  What are we going to do?  Staycation?  Vacation?  Hang out around the house and get things done?  Time will tell. 

6) My friend Rella made a really, really cute wreath and posted a picture of it on Instagram the other day.  As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to copycat.  Mine is nowhere near as cute as the one she made but . . . it's not bad?  The girlchild and Mark both claimed, unprompted, that they liked it.


7) I'm hoping to get up some kind of book review post next week.  Right now, I'm halfway through JoJo Moyes' Me Before You and . . . I'm just not in love with it??  Is there something wrong with me? 

8) I've been getting up in the mornings when Mark leaves for work to walk around the neighborhood.  He leaves early so getting up is kinda hard (and buhhh-leeee me does NOT happen on Monday mornings!) but I feel so much better when I get home.  Refreshed and ready to start the day!

9) I love Brad Paisley.   I love him.  I love his songs.  However.  Am I the only one a little squicked out that he did a song about, well, about doing the do without fighting first with . . . Demi Lovato?  I know she's an adult now and blah blah blah but she's . . . Disney channel.  "Sometimes I think we're fighting just to be lovers"  "Good as we are at getting it on"  I know it's just a song (and I actually like the song!) but he's, you know, older than I am and she's just so.damn.young.  Okay, I looked her up and she's 23.  But he's FORTY-THREE.  Still officially grossed out.

10) This is, like, the most true thing EVER.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Kindergarten

 
Kindergarten was not easy for my girl.  We struggled from the very beginning and, if I'm being completely honest, I expected the struggle.  She learned SO MUCH and she grew leaps and bounds socially.  But it was difficult.
 
She began kindergarten in one class -- a class with a teacher I loved, the same teacher J had for kindergarten.  We were so excited she was in that class!  Before the end of the first quarter, however, a new kindergarten class had to be added.  She was one of the students selected to move from her class into the new one.  I was LIVID but the principal pretty much let me know it was a done deal, she was moving classes.  It ended up being a good thing -- her teacher was the absolute best for my girl.  And, man, did Karis love her! 
 
In November, her teacher requested a conference with me.  She wanted some extra intervention for K and needed my permission.  She began working one-on-one with an aide.  At our spring time conference, we discussed that K was still struggling and her teacher suggested that I think about having her repeat a year of kindergarten.  In April we made the decision: she will rock the kindergarten thing again next school year.
 
Honestly, this wasn't all that difficult a decision to make.  I'm her #1 advocate and her education is super important to me.  She will be at a new school and no other students will know she's on her second year of kindergarten. She knows she'll be repeating but we haven't made it out to be a big deal.  Just "you rocked kindergarten so hard we're going to do it all over again!" Her birthday is in April so while she be a little older than her classmates, she won't be THAT much older.  In the end it really just comes down to one thing: it's the best thing for her. 
 
We're super excited about our new school and the opportunities it will present for all the kids.  While her teacher at her former school was great, the school district just didn't provide as much as what our new one will.  We're hoping for a great school year!  (But, seriously, can the summer slow down a bit?? We only have a little over a month until they're back in school.  Nooooo!)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How To Make the Best Potato Salad

My mother would argue with me over the title of this post because she and I have completely different opinions on what makes a potato salad "good."  She prefers hers more "mushy" and heavy on the mustard.  I like my potatoes a bit firmer and give me all the mayo.  This "best potato salad" trick I learned, though, would work for either of our palates.  It comes down to one thing: the eggs.  Not the mayo, the mustard, or the consistency of the taters.  It's all about the eggs.
 
We went to a graduation party last month.  I was in the kitchen talking while Mark fixed his plate.  As soon as I joined him and sat down, he told me, "you have GOT to try this potato salad."  I did (because, duh, I'm Brandi and I love me some potato salad) and it was oh.so.good.  We asked who made it and turned out it was Kathy.  I asked her for her recipe right away.
 
"Oh, it's nothing to do with the recipe.  It's the eggs.  Use one egg for every potato."
 
The next time I made potato salad, that's what I did.  Well, actually, I was using baby reds and since they were smaller than the Russet potatoes she used, I did one egg for every two small potatoes.  It ended up being the same potato-to-egg ratio.  And you know what?  The potato salad was AMAZING.  I whipped up another batch of it last weekend and it was declared, "sweet love," "wow," and "that potato salad is awesome!"

FYI: I don't think it's possible to take a good picture of a potato salad!

Here's my recipe but, really, it's more the method than the recipe.  It's all in the eggs!

8 baby red potatoes, scrubbed and cut up (I keep the skin on)
4 boiled eggs, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
MAYO!  (I never measure, I just keep adding it until I feel I have a good consistency)
Dill relish, about a tablespoon or so
Salt and pepper

Boil potatoes until just done.  Allow them to cool -- I usually stick them in the freezer for a bit.  Combine potatoes, eggs, onion, red pepper, relish, and mayo.  I add the mayo in a little at a time until I have the right consistency.  You could also add a squirt or two of mustard.  Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve it up and wait for the compliments to roll in!  ;)

It's all in the eggs!

Monday, June 27, 2016

We Weekended.

What a great weekend!

Kendra babysat for us Thursday night so we had our first date night since my birthday! It was so nice. We went to Friday Tuna where we had hibachi with Uncle Phil ...


Then made our way over to the Saucer for a couple drinks. Nothing over the top, just kid-free time together. Awesome. 

Friday some friends from the old neighborhood came over to swim. The girl child was SO HAPPY. She's been very bored as an only child. 


Friday evening, a co-worker of Mark's and his family came over for swimming and grilling. We really had a great time. The kids gave up on swimming but the adults stayed in the pool until around 11:30. I love night swimming!


This is what a lot of our Saturday looked like. We have to be completely out of the old place by today at 4. The ceiling had some issues and, well, we want that deposit back!  We worked for a while then headed home for swimming and basketball. 


That afternoon, a former coworker of Mark's texted. He was in town and wanted to hang out. Kendra was nice enough to babysit AGAIN so we headed to midtown. I normally love the Overton Square area but the bar we were at (I can't even be bothered to look up the name) was just ugh. The server was awful. He asked to see my ID twice then didn't even take my drink order. He was rude and acted overworked. The food was just meh as well. Apparently their truffle fries are the star of the show but we wouldn't know because they weren't even on the menu!


We left there and headed to a dive with live music that was much more us. Really ended the night on a high note! 


Sunday rolled around and we did what we always do ... SUNDAY FUNDAY! Jason and Kendra came over, we lounged in the pool, had a few drinky-drinks, and threw some meat on the grill.  


Great Sunday to cap off a really good weekend. Next weekend is one of my favorites of the entire year: FOURTH OF JULY!! And I have a couple friends coming into town. I can't wait! 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Thursday Things

1) My kids have been gone for eight days now and we really, really miss them.  It's funny because the four kids we have a majority of the time (my three plus Mark's daughter) will fight and argue and carry on.  It took approximately three hours after they left last Wednesday for the one remaining girl child to tell me how much she missed them.  She's missed Kyan especially and I hear, "I miss Ky Ky" at least fifty times a day. 

2) Beth had been at our house for less than an hour when she asked me, "So what's next?  When's the wedding?"  Mark's mom followed that up with a "when are you getting married?" Father's Day guilt trip.  It's something we hear all.the.time. to the point that right now it's just amusing.  It's easy to tell the people who have happy marriages or at least have never been in a truly sucky relationship because they're always the ones pulling for the Big M!

3) I'm surprised at how much I like this song.

4) Friday will mark FOUR WEEKS of no TV.  We actually have basic cable with our Xfinity but haven't even taken the cable box out. A majority of the TV we watched was just background noise and now we fill that void with music.  It's been really nice.  We'll go back to DirecTV when football season rolls around, for sure, but I would recommend a TV-free summer to anyone.  (As I was typing this, I realized going TV-free isn't something we really could've done when I was a kid.  We never would've known the weather forecast or what was going on around us.  Now we have everything right at our fingertips via smart phones.)

5) My brother and his family are coming in to town in July!  We haven't seen them since Spring Break last year, and that was just me and J.  Kyan and Karis haven't seen them since over the holidays 2014.  And Mark and his kiddos have yet to meet them.  We're going to have a great week!  Until Josh and I get tired of each other and I throw him the pool.

6) Our house is slowwwwwly starting to come together.  Most of the unpacking is done and I'm hoping we can knock out some other projects (namely hanging stuff on the walls!) over the weekend.  Who knows, though.  The past four weeks have been such a whirlwind.  One smart thing we did, though, was give ourselves an extra month to move out of Mark's old place.  Of course, now we have only a week to tie up loose ends over there!  It's not much, though, mainly just some basic cleaning.  Once that's done we can really focus on getting this place more together.

7) Confession Time!  Memorial Day.  Kendra and I were tired of constantly running in the house to go to the bathroom (one of our first major improvements we want to do is enclose the back porch and put in a bathroom.)  Sooooo.  I went to Amazon and ordered these.  Guess what?  They work!  And they're way more convenient than constantly running through the house.

8) This picture is from last week but look at this sweet girl reading to her stuffed animals.  LOVE!

9) Our new area of town is pretty convenient to most places. We have a handful of Kroger stores close by, there's an Aldi and a Sam's.  Buuuuut . . . the nearest Target isn't very convenient at all which means I've been having to hit up Walmart a lot more.  And there's my first world problem of the day!

10) Please hurry!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

So About That Father's Day Weekend

When I was a kid and we had people coming over, my mom would always say - in the midst of her frenzied cleaning.  "They're coming over to see me, not my house."  That sentiment no longer holds true when people are coming over to your NEW house.  Yeah, they wanna see you.  But they also want to check out your new digs!
 
We had people in town this weekend which meant Friday morning you would've found me in the middle of my own cleaning frenzy.  It was worth it, though, for the amazing and fun weekend we had!
 
Mark has been friends with Ed since they were in school together and every year, he and his family make at least one trek to Memphis.  And the three times we went to Chicago over the past year, we stayed with them every time.  They're truly more like family than friends -- their kids even call Mark "Uncle Mark" (or to be more specific -- Uncle Marky Mark and the Frunky Bunch.  Yes.  Frunky) -- and they've completely accepted me into their fold.  It's great spending time with them!
 
They made it to town Friday afternoon; Mark's flight from Dayton didn't even land until 10:00.  We kept things low-key, hung out by the pool, and ordered Chinese food for dinner.
 
Most of Saturday was spent just like this:
 
The kids played, the girls laid out, the boys grilled.  It was a fun day!  That night, Ed and Beth had tickets to see Widespread Panic at Mud Island.  They invited us to go along with but we opted, instead, to take the kids to the drive-in.  HELLO!  Finding Dory opened this weekend!  Somebody had to see it.  Spoiler alert: that somebody was me.  It was a super cute movie but not as good as Nemo.


Sunday rolled around (way, way too early) and it was time to celebrate the dads!  I made Mark banana waffles, bacon, and man-mosas for breakfast.
 
We found this card and absolutely couldn't resist! 

On Saturday, Mark told me he was planning to do yard work the following day.

"You can't!  You can't do things like that on Father's Day!  You're supposed to relax, do things you enjoy!"  His response? "I like yard work."  So the day began with him and Ed doing some tree trimming and yard clean-up and the result was a lot more sidewalk around our pool!

The rest of the day looked a lot like this . . .


 
For dinner, we grilled burgers, corn, and three racks of ribs, Beth made an awesome cucumber salad, and I made potato salad.  So delicious!
 

Monday morning, the guys headed out for a round of golf so the rest of us decided to be tourists.

Beth told me they've been coming to Memphis since Mark moved here (ten years ago) and they've never done much tourist-y stuff.  So this was a must do.  The original plan was Mud Island but it's closed on Mondays (dohhhhh) so we made our way over to the pyramid.
 

The kids absolutely LOVED it. 
 

After leaving the pyramid, we stopped by the visitor's center for pictures with Elvis and B.B. King.  Because . . . when in Memphis . . .

Then, since it was roughly 239402348 degrees outside, we headed to the splash pad at Beale Street Landing for a quick cooling off.
 

Annnnn Dennnnnn . . . THIS happened:

Oh, Gus's.  How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways (fried chicken and macaroni and slaw and fried green tomatoes and fried pickles and fried okra and coconut pie and . . . )
 
Then it was back to the house -- and into the pool -- for one last dip.

What a great, fantastic, amazing way to spend Father's Day weekend!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

I Had the Best Day with You Today . . .

 
I had the best day last  Thursday.
 
Seriously.  The BEST day.
 
(FYI: I don't care if Taylor Swift gets caught smoking crack while being gang banged, this song will always make me think she's . . . she's amazing.  Thank you, Taylor, for recording this song and tugging at every mother and daughter's heart strings.)
 
I digress.
 
Mark was in Ohio, my kids were with their dad.  It was just me and Mark's daughter.  Not gonna lie, I was a little nervous about how our time "just the two of us" was going to go.
 
But.  It really . . . just . . . we had the best day.
                                   
Here's the deal: a year and a half ago, I went on a date with a cute guy.  During that time in my life, I went on a lot of dates with cute guys!  I went into it thinking, "okay, yeah, gonna get some free drinks, maybe even dinner."  I never, ever thought that I would be ordering chicken nachos with my soul mate, that I was sipping on Miller Lite with the love of my life.
 
But . . . life is a funny thing.  It's a very funny thing.  That cute guy I went out with that night ended up being the answer to a lot of prayers, he ended up being the soul mate that I never believed in or thought existed.
 
And he also brought a really cool chick into my life.
 
               
"Both my kids were adopted from Guatemala," he told me that first night.  I never realized, on that first night, that I would meet both those kids.  That I would grow to love them.  That I would end up a mother figure to one of them.
 
The story of his daughter and her mother isn't mine to tell so I don't want to say much but I will tell you this: he was married 14 years, both of his kids were adopted, and he adopted them both with the same woman.  At this point we have 100% custody of his daughter (his ex has primary physical custody of their son) but we're hoping a change of heart will happen somewhere along the way.
 
ANYWAY!
 
Last Thursday!
 
I work from home during the summer and had some stuff I needed to get done.  So I plowed through that early in the morning.  Then we showered, got dressed, and headed out for some shopping!  Yes, mah friends, I introduced this girl to the art of thrifting.  There's a Goodwill AND a Habitat for Humanity Re-Store suuuuuper close to us.  (Sidenote: Habitat's re-store has books for $0.50 each with a buy five get one free promotion! Best thing everrrrr!)
 
We had lunch at Happy Mexican (probs a review coming soon!) then really did some shopping.
 
And by "really did some shopping" I mean, we were totally worn out from the thrifting and the heat of the day - it was our first 100 degree day and the heat indices were at, like 115.  Suffice to say, we were over and just DONE with it and ready to head home before too much shopping! 
 
We got back home just before 5, changed into our suits, and jumped in the pool (which felt like bathwater, so hot -- bah!)
 
And something else happened.
 
I realized I was really - REALLY - enjoying the companionship of this child.  We played in the pool.  I re-heated some of the Aldi Take-and-Bake pizza I'd purchased the day before.  We ate and we talked and we picked hypothetical names for her future babies (Brooklyn Brianne or Brianna Brooke??") and I just felt . . . I felt just SO MUCH for this child.  This amazing girl.
 
It's no secret that I love my boyfriend.  I love him more than I've ever loved anyone EVER.  It's no secret that when I first met his daughter -- hell, for the first nine moths to a year -- things were REALLY rocky.  There have been more than a few times that I've blinked back tears and thought, "can I do this?  I love him but is he worth this?
 
But you know what?
 
I fell in love with this kid.
 
It was probably way before this Thursday night but . . .  that Thursday night, it drove it home.  Floating in the pool with her . . . telling her stories about my grandparents . . . hearing her laugh . . .
 
It all brought it home.
 
Mark was brought into my life for a reason.  His daughter was brought into mine for a reason.  Regardless of the reasons, I feel so lucky that this amazing guy is in my life -- and that he brought this wonderful child into it!
 
Now . . . hearts, rainbows, unicorn farts!  I LOVE my life right now and it's my hope that everyone reading this feels the same way.
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