Friday, August 26, 2016

Foodie Friday: Chicken Jalapeno Sliders

We loooooove us some sliders.  I have no idea where the original ham and cheese slider recipe originated but it's one of our very favorites.  We love those and I make them a lot, especially during football season. 
A few months ago, Mark picked up the jalapeno Hawaiian rolls and I KNEW I had to make a chicken slider with those.  I finally did last Friday and, I have to say, these are the best sliders I've ever made.  Kendra loved them and Mark also declared them a winner.  I think these will be making several more appearances.  Of course, I have to share the "recipe."
Here's what I used:
Ranch dressing, pepper jack cheese slices, Laughing Cow swiss, jalapeno Hawaiian rolls, and chicken strips (yeah, I went the lazy way but I love these Perdue chicken strips -- I keep them on hand for an easy, go-to high protein snack.)

I want to point out that I would've added jalapenos to them as well - and will in the future - but I didn't know that all the kids would eat them if they had jalapenos. 

Cut each Hawaiian roll in half.  Spread the Laughing Cow cheese and a little bit of ranch dressing on each one.  Top with chicken and half a slice of pepper jack cheese.

Before baking, melt a tiny bit of butter to pour over the tops.
Bake at 350 for around 15 minutes until rolls are golden brown and cheese is nice and melty.

Y'all.  These are SO GOOD.  Give 'em a try sometime!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Thursday Things

1) Mark has been in Iowa all week.  Monday morning started out as a shit show but eased up pretty well.  So I was thinking "I got dis."  No.  No I do NOT got dis.  It's currently Thursday and I'm behind the wheel of the struggle bus attempting to make it through this final stretch.  I'm being  a little dramatic (obviously) but it has been a rough week.

2) We've had grade level meetings at the kids' school this week.  I LOVE THEIR NEW SCHOOL!  The teachers believe in minimal homework (though they do have to bring home whatever they didn't complete in class) in order to give kids more time with their families in the evenings.  We received emails yesterday that our district had the highest ACT scores in the entire state.  We totally made the right decision by moving here!

3) Kyan's teacher has a board in her classroom where kids can write down things that "stuck with them" on a post-it note and then stick them on that board.  All the other kids wrote down things about math and science.  My kid though?  "Playing basketball with my friends."  That's what stuck with him.  That boy!

4) I mentioned before that I listen to Pandora all.the.time.  One of their ads is for the FreePrints app.  You get 85 prints a month and only pay $9 shipping (which, yeah, is too much for shipping pictures but, I mean, it's 85 pics.)  I decided to give them a try and y'all . . . never again.  The prints were pretty good quality but they took well over two weeks to even get to me.  I had to email customer service twice before getting any kind of response.  I'll stick with Snapfish in the future, same price on shipping and you get 100 "free" pics a month.

5) Cards Against Humanity always makes me laugh.

6) I can't believe Labor Day is so close!  I'm really sad to see summer go but I also can't wait for some RAZORBACK FOOTBALL.  We're planning a football party for kickoff Saturday.  Avery's birthday party last weekend got me in full on party planning mode. 

7) Kyan's teacher  is an Alabama fan (ugh) and she told me Tuesday night that he's already talking smack to her.  That's my kid!

8) Last thing about football: over the weekend we bought tickets to see the Bears and Colts play in Indy in October.  This will be Jaidan's birthday present and the "big" Christmas gift for the other two boys.  They are so excited!  They live and breathe football these days so it's going to be really fun for them to have this experience.  I didn't even go to my first NFL game until I was THIRTY!

9) Luke Bryan's newest song is so stupid.  He's at his best with things like "Play it Again" and "Drink a Beer."  I hate his "Country Girl Shake it for Me" type songs. 

10) I L'd-oh-L

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Back to School 2016: College Edition

Monday morning was my first first day of school in a long, long time. And, let's just say, I'm not 18 anymore. Stay in school, kids! This shit is a lot harder when you're 36.

I purposely scheduled my first class of the day for later in the morning so I could make sure the kids got off to school. Well. That class was cancelled and I was bumped to an earlier one. My kids catch the bus an hour before my school starts. Not a huge deal except the bus had been late every morning. I have a 20 minute commute anyway but traffic is always icky the first couple weeks of school. This meant I would have to drop the kids off at school (THANK GOD they can go in the building 30 minutes before the bell rings!) We all had to be up earlier Monday morning and ... 

I was drying my hair when the oldest girl child came in and told me coffee had spilled all over the freezer. (My boyfriend preps my coffee every morning for my spoiled ass.) Y'all. You can totally cry over spilled coffee. Ten minutes later, I had it mostly cleaned up. However, Kyan hadn't even eaten breakfast (he'd been up 30 minutes!), Karis was laying on the couch instead of getting dressed, I was still in my pajamas with wet hair. No lunches were made. And we were supposed to be out the door in ten minutes. 

Oh, and did I forget to mention that Mark is in Iowa all week? When he left that morning he wished me good luck in holding down the fort. I texted him with "you haven't even been gone an hour and it's already gone to shit."

It does get better though. 

We got out the door only about five minutes behind schedule and with no forgotten lunches (I didn't eat breakfast but let's be real ... it's not gonna hurt me to skip a meal.) I stopped by Dunkin to replace my spilled coffee. And - best of all - Mark called to give me a pep talk. 

I know that a good support system is mandatory if I'm going to do this and, man, do I have a gold star support system. He got my head back on track and my mind on the big picture. He supports me with his words but also with his gestures ... volunteering to take vacation days over fall break to stay with the kids, letting me know he'll take the kids off my hands when I need to study, and just doing the things he already does like helping with the cooking and cleaning.  We're equals when it comes to things like that, a fact I'll never take for granted because I know it's not the same for every relationship. 

The remainder of my first day went pretty well.  I'm older than most of my classmates but it's something I expected.  The program I'm taking (paralegal) is very small and, in fact, all of my classes are in the same classroom!  I have the same professor for back to back classes two days a week.  It's very different than doing the college thing at 18. 

I was out of class early with minimal reading so I spent my time before the kids got home from school by the pool with the newest Southern Living.  A pretty perfect way to end my first day of school!

I'm excited for this semester and for what the future holds.  Let's do dis thing!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

We Got No Troubles, Life is the Bubbles!

I met Kendra when Avery was just a few months old and this week she turns FOUR!  I've been to every one of her birthday parties and this year, they held it at my house.  With an amazing, awesome, you gotta see all this "Under the Sea" theme.  Seriously, Kendra way outdid herself!  We started working on things Friday afternoon and spent all of Friday evening prepping.  It was so worth it.

Kendra put a tent over the table on my back patio and strung up a fishing net with sea stars and balloons in it (I didn't get a picture of that, darn it!)  She planned to set up the food there but Saturday dawned and the weather wasn't the greatest.  So we set up the food table inside.

And the food.  Look at this!

The cake balls were my contribution and they're my favorite ones yet -- Dinglehoppers!

It rained off and on all day long but the sun would peek out at times.  The water was SO COLD thanks to all the rain we had during the week.  But . . . kids.  They're not fazed my cold water in the slightest.  I, on the other hand, would only go in up to my ankles!

The kiddos also did some bubble blowing.

And there was yummy cake!  Aves requested a green cake so Kendra made that happen!
(P.S. With the exception of Karis's last birthday cake, we've gotten the last several done at Sam's.  They're inexpensive and they taste GOOD!)


Cady made a cute little photo booth and props.  Avery and J were the only ones who really got into it but they had fun -- and it inspired me to do another photo booth in a couple weeks when we have our RAZORBACK FOOTBALL kickoff party.

I totally made the jellyfish!  ;)
The girls even did a little swimming in the rain.

With the "party" part of the party over, we sent the kids upstairs to watch Little Mermaid and got down to shots and Cards Against Humanity. 

You.are.welcome. for that amazing picture of my (relatively new) ceiling fan.
Since we didn't birthday party enough on Saturday, we headed to another one Sunday afternoon.  Mark used to work with Chris here in Memphis.  He was transferred to Chicago a couple years ago (but still does a lot of work for their Memphis location.)  He and his wife loved Memphis so much that they kept their house here and she and their kids spend all summer in town.  We don't see much of them but it's always fun when we do!  They were heading back to Chicago on Monday so, Sunday afternoon, they had a birthday party for their son as well as a "let's see all of Memphis peeps" before we head back.
It was a tennis/ swimming party.

None of our kiddos had played tennis before.  The girls hated it but the boys seemed to enjoy.  My poor boys are like their mom though -- they either miss the ball entirely or smash the hell out of it.

The party was at the JCC which has the COOLEST water park area for a pool!

Slides, all kinds of play areas, a lazy river.  The kids had a blast!

It was a tiring weekend but also such a fun one!  The summer weekends are winding down and while I CANNOT CANNOT CANNOT wait for football, I want summer to linger just a little bit longer.

Monday, August 22, 2016

And Yet Another New Chapter

Today is a big day. 

A big day for me, a big day for our family.

For the first time in more years than I wish to admit, I will be sitting in a college class . . . as a college student.

I'm going back to school, y'all!

I'm excited and I'm nervous and I'm mostly excited but there's a good chance I am dry heaving and needing to take, like, six shots. 

When I went to college the first time around, I decided to major in English.  I couldn't decide exactly what I wanted to do but I knew that my top three choices were teaching, law, or journalism.  I figured I could take an English degree and do any of those things with it.  I could go on to teach, I could go to law school, or I could find a job with a newspaper or magazine (it was 1998, y'all, papers and magazines were still a thing.) 

Here it is many years later and I have a degree in . . . well, absolutely nothing.  But I still have interests in the same things.  Journalism . . . the way we knew journalism back in the day . . . is dead.  Teaching is for those who are more patient than me.  And, well, I've read one too many John Grisham novels.  Law it is.  I'm going to school for my paralegal certification!  This will allow me to do something I (hopefully) enjoy but will not take the hours, time, and moments away from my family that being an attorney would.  I'm excited about this decision! 

I'm hoping that I stick with this.  And I'm REALLY hoping I enjoy my classes.  Mainly because I want to stick with this and it'll be very hard to do so if I don't find what I'm learning to be interesting.  I'm 36-years-old and just now discovering what I'm almost positive I want to be when I grow up.  But I already know . . . I won't stick with it if it's uninteresting.  Lucky for me, I (usually) find research and writing pretty damn interesting.  Paralegal SHOULD be perfect for me.  Let's hope!

The next few months are going to be full of adjustment.  Hell, just this week is going to be full of adjustment.  I'm starting school, I'm still trying to work part-time, I have three different meetings to go to.  Oh!  And Mark is in Iowa for the week.  It's going to be . . . interesting.

So that's what's going on with me.  Another new chapter and, hopefully, one that will prove to be one of the best possible moves for our family!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Thursday Things

1) School is still going great for all the kids!  I really love their new school and all the THINGS they do.  We loved the teachers at their other school (for the most part) but they were so limited by the district in what they could do with the students.  In the new school we have things like student of the week, show and tell . . . things I know elementary kids all over the country have been doing since the beginning of time but that mine had to miss out on.  I know it's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things but I'm happy that they're now in a school that does fun little things.

2) I was slightly worried the kids would be behind their peers in their new school.  Kyan's teacher sent an email home the other day letting parents know she had the kids who were ready take their first AR test.  I asked Kyan if he took one and . . . yup!  He was ready for the test!  Big sigh of relief there.

3) The only thing not going well?  The bus situation!  It's SO FRUSTRATING!  The kids didn't get home from school on Monday until 5:00 and yesterday was the first day they caught it in the morning.  It was still 20 minutes late but that's better than nothing!

4) I went to a kindergarten parents meeting the other night and told Mark if I'm going to fit in, I need a brightly colored Kate Spade handbag.  I hadn't seen so many fuchsia, yellow, and bright blue bags in my LIFE.

5) I listen to music pretty much all day long.  I connect my phone to my Bluetooth speaker and put it on Pandora.  I've recently been trying the shuffle feature, which is great, except mine plays enough Christmas songs that I use up my skips on them.  I don't want to delete my Christmas stations for fear of using my favorites.  I wish there was a way to customize which stations you want to shuffle. 

6) I was watching the Olympics the other night.  After they won their medals, Simon Biles and Aly Raisman were being interviewed and mentioned if they come back in 2020 they'll be on the "geriatric team."  In four years, they'll be 23 and 26!  I nearly cried.  The Olympics has such a way of making me feel old. 

7) We've been getting rain the past several days.  Of course, it's absolutely nothing like what's going on in Louisiana.  I read this article yesterday and, wow, is there a lot of truth in one article.  I don't like how political the comments are but the article?  Spot on.

8) Since school started, we moved the Firestick back downstairs and put it on the main TV.  It had been in a kid room but we keep TV and screen time to a minimum during the school week. It was nice having a - mostly - TV-free summer (the kids watched YouTube videos from the Firestick) but, I'm not going to lie, I missed somethings.  We really don't have any shows we HAVE to watch (we're football people) but I love the ID channel, especially having it on for background noise.

9) It's August and guess what?  I've already started buying football presents!  We're taking the boys to a football game in a couple months and it's a birthday present for one and the "big" Christmas present for the other two.  So I really only have to do major shopping for three kids.  I'm trying to get as much as possible knocked out as early as possible.  And I already have Karis's stocking mostly done.  I'm pretty proud of myself. 

10) Seriously, threw away a rotten banana yesterday.  Ugh . . .

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Family Filled Weekend

We had nearly all of Mark's family in town over the weekend!  Only two nephews and a niece weren't able to make the trip.  But we had his mother, both his brothers and their wives, two nephews, two nieces . . . and a partridge in a pear tree.  It was quite the weekend.
Everyone made it to town before 6:00 Friday evening and the rest of the weekend looked a lot like this:
Pool, pool, and more pool.
Saturday morning, my mom and grandma came to join in on the fun.  MawMaw hadn't seen my new house yet and this was also a chance for them to get acquainted with Mark's family.  I'll also add right here that we got by the weekend with only four mentions of marriage: Mark's mother, twice, within 15 minutes of arriving, a 7-year-old nephew within about an hour of arriving, and my grandmother within about 15 minutes also.  I consider that a win. 

There were THREE dads in the pool this weekend to throw kids around.  At one point, all three of them were more like . . . catapulting . . . the kids around.  They loved it (dads and kids!)

We had NINE kids in the house this weekend.  Nine! Fortunately, they all got along super well.  NO ARGUMENTS!  Just a lot of laughing, Barbie playing, and Pok√©mon card trading.
On Saturday evening, we decided to head to the drive-in.
The only kid-friendly movie playing was Pete's Dragon.  I grew up on the "Happiest Home in These Hills" musical version of Pete.  And . . . well . . . I really, really, REALLY did not like the new version.  Disney needs to start leaving it's classics alone.
Sunday morning started off with French toast and what else?  More pool time!

One of the families had to leave Sunday afternoon but we snapped a picture of all the cousins before they headed out.
That's a good looking group of kids!

And also one of Mark and his brothers.  He's the "baby" of the family.

We really did have such a great weekend.  It was so nice getting to know his family better, particularly one sister-in-law that I hadn't spent as much time with as the others.  Mark's mother and other brother and family left on Monday morning and we were all sad to see them go.  Fortunately, we'll be hanging out with some of the crew in Indy in October.  Can't wait to see them again!

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