Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Nailed It!

Ok, last night I made the best tasting soup ever! Anthony said it's his favorite he's ever had, so I'm gonna go with a WIN on that one! Plus, it made a TON! I froze half of it for a rainy day and we ate a ton and have leftovers for lunch today! Yes!

Here is the original recipe I went from. I changed a few things, so I will post my recipe below... Enjoy (and you will!)!


Chicken and Wild Rice Soup


Ingredients:

7 C chicken broth (7 is the number because that's all I had! It calls for 9- oops!)
2 C water
1/2 C diced onion
1 C diced carrots
1 C diced celery
3 C cooked wild rice
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/3 C flour (I used gluten free)
2 C half and half (I used about 1 1/2 C fat free half and half and 1/2 C 1% milk and it was great)
salt/pepper/garlic powder to taste
Rotisserie chicken shredded (I only used 1 1/2 breasts)


Directions:
Combine broth and water and bring to boil. Add onion, celery, and carrots and reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add rice and cook for 5 more minutes. In a small bowl, stir together flour and 1 cup water with garlic, salt, pepper, and any other additional seasonings you might like. Stir until smooth, then slowly add to big pot- stirring constantly. Bring to a boil for about a minute. Slowly add half and half, stirring constantly. Add chicken. Mix well. Heat through and serve.

**I made this while my kids were napping and let it sit and absorb all the flavors until dinner time. I just turned the stove to simmer about thirty minutes before dinner and it was delicious (much better that way then when I tasted it right after combining everything).

Here is my very non-professional, putting it into freezer container, picture. I realized after we served it that I needed to share the recipe on the blog and thought any picture is better than no picture. Delicious y'all!


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Man, It's Good to be Back!

A little over a week ago, a blogger friend wrote about how she was doing a Bible Study and it called for her to simplify her media life. She and some other girls in her group did a little experiment where they all pretty much shut down the media in their lives- mainly through their phones. No texting, no Facebook, no Instagram, no email checking... It was pretty intense.

As I read her post on it, I caught myself thinking, "Man, good for her. But that is NOT for me. I could never do that, nor do I particularly want to do that. I would probably die." And since I wasn't reading the book and meeting regularly with girls who were doing the same thing, I didn't have to do it- thank goodness!

Now, let me backup a second. I'm not the mom who sits on her phone all day while she "stays home with the kids." I check Facebook only three times a day (as opposed to a jillion times throughout the day), and all of those times the kids are asleep (morning, afternoon nap time, and after they go down at night). Instagram I DO check often, but there is no real depth to those posts, so it takes a quick second to scroll through and like someone's picture. I do text often because it seems to be the easiest way for me to keep in touch with people (I often don't have 5-10 minutes to sit and chat and make small talk on the phone when my kids are home. They need my constant attention/supervision and I feel like since this is my job these days, they deserve that. I certainly wouldn't be chatting the day away on the phone if I was in the working world.).

Anyway, as I read my friend's post, I was amazed by her willingness to do this, but also thankful that I wasn't reading that book. Phew!

Well, last Saturday night as we were watching the Aggies get beat by Auburn (so depressing), my phone suddenly turned white. I could BARELY see some of the icons- enough to use the phone button and find my contacts, but not able to check email, texts, or any of the apps on my phone.



Yes, my phone has been through the ringer- that is indeed a missing home button (just popped off!) and a giant black spot covering the battery level. No clue what happened, but it was all messed up.


Anyway, we went to the AT&T store Saturday night to replace my phone. As we were sitting there, Anthony was fiddling with my phone and it just started working again. Perfect! I could hold out a little longer. We weren't due for an upgrade until next summer and I was boycotting getting a new phone for sheer principle. They charge you so much for stuff like that! Ugh!

So we went to dinner that night with some friends and as we were sitting there, my phone did the same thing- turned white all over again. Ugh! Of course it worked while we were in the store.

So we waited until it opened after church on Sunday (not until noon!). We sat there for over an hour (!!!!) and I was so mad how they were nickle and diming us that I took the kids to the car and left and made Anthony deal with it. They try to get you in every possible way (Ok, well, I just want the same phone- a 4- and no upgrade. Oh, now that particular phone is $500? Cool. Early upgrade fee plus new phone will be $750? Cool. So mad!). After calling the corporate AT&T line while he was in the store, Anthony talked some guy into waiving the early upgrade fee and bought the 5C phone ($99 instead!)- that's why he's great at his job. Way to go, Mr. Salesman.

But the catch- the phone had to be ordered and would take 3-5 days. Yikes.

So, here I found myself going through my blogger friend's exact media-free experiment but it was against my will. Isn't it funny sometimes how we think we are actually in control? I bet God just looks down and totally laughs at us and says, "Oh honey. You have NO CLUE what you need. Silly silly girl."

I guess God thought I needed to see what this was all about instead of thinking I couldn't do it at all. So for a week I could only use my phone as a phone. I could only make calls. I couldn't even see the caller ID to tell who was calling me. It was nuts.

Here I am on the other side telling you I survived.

And here are a few things I learned...

-I COULD survive without my phone being more than a phone. Did I particularly enjoy it? No.
-Facebook and social media was no biggie (though I did miss Instagram- I love people's pictures!). I am proud of myself for only checking FB when my kids are sleeping anyway- I made that promise to myself years ago.
-I missed sending a quick text here or there- or especially missed receiving picture texts (I had TWO friends have new babies last week and it was hard not being able to see their precious girls right away!).
-Email was fine. It's nice to send a quick reply if I can some days, but if it takes more than a few minutes, I will generally wait until the kids go down so I can really focus anyway. So this wasn't much different.
-I super duper missed the conveniences of having a smart phone. No map, no quick googling things... those were tough. Grocery shopping and not remembering what went in that one recipe is no biggie when I've got my phone. Taking dinner to two other new moms last week was tough when I realized the original map I routed was blocked off or took me a funny way.


So, basically, I survived. And it was really fine. But I'm so glad to be back to "normal" life with my phone. Just knowing it's there- like a security blanket.

Dang you, iPhone. I can't quit you.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Those Days

I really don't have much insightful material to blog about. So I was just looking through some old pictures, and a few things started to jump out. Mainly I wanted to share some cute ones of the kids, but some others definitely need to be mentioned (and they aren't cool enough for their own post). 

Last week I took the kids to the zoo. You know those days where the stars align and everything just goes right? Yeah, it was one of those days. I actually got the kids up, made lunches for all of us (which rarely happens when we go to the zoo because it takes a lot of effort and why bother when the zoo offers healthy and yummy choices?!), and headed there- and we made it (traffic and all!) around 9! I love getting to the zoo so early. The parking is perfect and there are no lines. Not to mention the animals are all frisky and recently (or currently) fed so it makes for some fun things to watch. 

But I love zoo days with my kids. Seriously, this is probably my favorite thing we do together. Probably because they love it so much and it genuinely makes them so happy. But mostly because it's our little time together. Sometimes we invite others, but mostly it's just us. We have a routine (that we often break), we have our favorites, and we are always building memories. The kids were in great moods that day (and so was mommy!), and it was just one of those days. I love those days. I was all educating them about animals and habitats and they were ACTUALLY listening and absorbing and asking questions. We all ate really healthy (no chicken nuggets or pizza- WIN!) for lunch. The weather was gorgeous. The day couldn't have gone better. I mean, not one little bit  (except the giraffe feeding was closed which is OUR FAVORITE PART!). Even without the giant lettuce and long giraffe tongues it was a great day. 




Why do my kids love to kiss the goats?!?!?




After the zoo we went to the duckpond outside the premises. We only do this occasionally, because by the end of the day we are pooped and ready for naps. But since today was one of those days, we headed over with our leftover popcorn and cheerios. The ducks and geese were pretty uninterested in our food (overfed much?), but the pigeons were all over the place. And my kids loved it! They thought it was awesome to have them ALL AROUND.

Anyway, as we were walking by, some woman says, "Come look at this river otter in the pond!" A river otter? In a duck pond?! Needless to say I had my doubts.

As we walked closer I had a feeling of what it was. I had never seen one in person, but having an animal-loving kid and some iPad game taught us about these things and I. Just. Knew. After I saw it I was certain (but I still googled it). Yup, it was a nutria. More commonly known as a river rat. I was all knowledgeable when I told the other woman what it actually was (and thank you google for giving me some facts to sound even better).

It half gave me the heebie-jeebies, half made me want to take it home. It was cute in a gross way. It used its little hands to eat the popcorn which was adorable, but every time it moved it made me shake a little. Not to mention this one in particular was HUGE. Like, with its tail it was probably as long (but probably longer!) than Jay! Eek! It never came fully out of the water, so this was the best picture I could get.




Anyway, the rest of that day was spent napping and some other things- obviously not too important since I don't remember. But I do remember being so thankful for a day like that. A day to recharge with my babies. I love those days.



On another note, I got a little crafty again and made this CUTE door hanger that I found on Pinterest. I actually made NOTHING, just painted some pre-made letters and tied some rafia on it. But whatever, I'll claim it. It's super cute.



We also had pizza for dinner one night last week (actually my kids had three it nights in one week- thanks in part to a lazy mom one night, and a night with each set of grandparents). Anyway, Jay can down some pizza. He will eat 3-4 slices at one sitting (and it's regular crust- he doesn't like thin crust- and he eats all of it. It's impressive). Anyway, he ate his tenth piece (not really) and then decided he was all finished with it. And I can honestly say I have never seen anyone eat a piece of pizza this way. Very interesting. You'd think there was some test out there to reveal the deeper meaning of this.



I feel like this post is getting a little wordy (and about nothing at all), so I will leave one last thing. Over our getaway weekend I read a short little book called Sparkly Green Earrings. Oh my gosh, if you are a mother READ THIS BOOK. It's super short and the most perfect mix of belly laughs and tears. Seriously, in the same paragraph I would be doing both. It's just about her life as a mother and stories about it all. She's a wonderful Christian and injects verses here and there. She's the author of Big Mama Blog which is a riot if you haven't visited that site. One of my favorites. Anyway, there was a quote on one page that just stood out to me and is applicable in so many situations.

"God can't take us anywhere if we keep clinging to the little bits of the past."

I mean, is that not a wonderful thing to remember? How many times do we remember things from the past (bad and good) and get hung up on them?! Well, if we can just remind ourselves to let go then God will take us so far forward and it will better than anything we can imagine. Smart words, I tell ya- and ones I need to remember!

Alright, that's it- I promise. 


Happy happy Friday, Y'all! Living for the weekend! Cheers to more of those days.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pumpkin Patch

Yes, it's THAT obligatory time again... Pumpkin patch pictures.

And while I should apologize for blowing up your blog scroll with another "must post" Pumpkin Patch post, I really don't feel bad about it.  :)

My girl <3 font="">

I couldn't love these two more if I tried!!

My guy <3 font="">

When this is blown up it shows just how GORGEOUS his brown eyes are!! 

YeeHaw!

Girlfriend loves her some "chew chew" (gum).
I love how this shows how long her hair is getting!

Peekaboo!

Jay and buddy Cayden

Jay and Brooks

These four boys were in class together last year, now in class together this year, and will eventually all be at the same high school... We decided to take a "yearbook" picture for the future! 
Love these crazy buddies!

Meanwhile Charley was primping Baby Jude and making sure he was ready for his shoot!

This is so typical...


 And so is this!

And this...  :)


And for some comparison (because this is one of my favorite parts!!)....

2012





2011



2010


Monday, October 14, 2013

Traveling the SEC

Anthony and I had the most fun weekend in Memphis, TN and Oxford, MS this weekend!

It was the beginning of our "visit an SEC school every year" plan. Whether or not that actually ends up happening is yet to be seen, but it's a goal! Maybe every other year?

Anyway, we knew we wanted to start this little tradition as soon as we Texas A&M started doing well during football season last year. So for Christmas last year, Andrea (his sister) and I bought the husbands (and ourselves!) plane tickets to Memphis for this game! We had big plans of taking a double trip together, having a blast, etc... The guys LOVED their presents and have been so excited! Well, Andrea and Mike decided to get pregnant and are due in just a few weeks (I say that very sarcastically1 we are SOOOO excited!!)- so that didn't work out so well for them. We missed them and know it would have been so much more fun with them!

I feel like half of the former students from A&M that I know went to this game this weekend. We definitely knew lots of people there (from both schools!).

Oxford is a small town like College Station. Just a few hotels and those sell out a year in advance (at least) for game weekends. So after talking with my aunt and uncle some (they are big Aggie supporters) they talked us into staying in Memphis with a bunch of the other Aggie alums and getting tickets in the Aggie section. It was perfect! Memphis is about an hour and fifteen minutes away from Oxford (much like College Station and Houston). Plus, they had hotels that were a little nicer than Motel 6, so I was definitely voting for that route!

We flew out Friday and arrived without incident. Everyone we encountered in Memphis was super nice. It was really refreshing, actually. We had a party in Oxford that night (one of Anthony's clients is a big Ole Miss alum and invited us to his huge party). We headed to Oxford and got there around 6:30 or so. We drove around the campus (which is gorgeous) and saw all of the fraternity and sorority houses (which was so fun!). We ate a quick bite at a little dive that is well known there and then walked around The Square. It reminded me so much of College Station and Northgate! The people were super friendly, though I did feel about a 100 years old! But because it was a game weekend, there were people of all ages out and about.

The party we went to was great- super crowded and a very big deal for Ole Miss alums. They had the cheerleaders and band there to perform and visit with the people. They had tons of food and live music and lots and lots of people. It was a really fun time. And like any big place- you always run into lots of people you know!

Anthony and me at the party!


We met up with some friends after a couple hours and stayed around The Square. There were a ton of older (our age) Aggies and we saw a jillion people that we hadn't seen in 10+ years! So fun! But this couple is retired from the party scene and it was just not as much fun to "visit" with friends in a ridiculously crowded bar with drunk people shoving up against you. So we hung out for a bit and then called it a night. Plus, we had a 1+ hour drive back to the hotel, so we were ok with that. :)

Saturday morning was so great to sleep in and veg in bed (how I have missed that!!!) for a while. We took our time getting ready and watched Game Day some. Then we headed to a delicious breakfast in downtown Memphis with a wait and enjoyed every single delicious kid-free bite! I say "with a wait" because now that we have kids, anywhere with a wait is OUT. In and out and done!

We headed to Oxford around 11ish, which was about three hours later than Anthony wanted- what?! I am all for getting there early and missing some traffic- but tailgating outside for 12 hours honestly does not sound fun to me! We drove around a bit and walked campus some and met up with lots of friends. We hit up The Grove and let me just tell you- it did NOT disappoint! WOW!

So fun! 


This is exactly why we chose Ole Miss to start with! That place is nuts! Chandeliers in tents, crystal serving bowls, tablecloths and centerpieces... Holy smokes! Those people are impressive! Not to mention every single girl there (ok, that's an overstatement, but seriously 90%) were in go out/cocktail dresses and high high heels. That is commitment. More power to them, but that is NOT for me! Ha! I'm all about a cute dress and boots, but comfort is key, people!

Chandeliers and chair covers

This pic does NOT do it justice, but this setup was beautiful!
The flower arrangements are cotton in giant vases and a huge wreath in the middle.
There were also some crystal serving bowls at this one!

An A&M tailgate- glad they got the memo on how nice it's supposed to be!
Chandeliers, maroon chiffon draped across, cocktail tables with covers and TONS of flowers!





Did I mention it rained for about an hour in the middle of the day? We made it inside to the Student Center and had some lunch and watched the end of the Texas/OU game. We came back out and The Grove was a giant mud pit. Seriously. Who's laughing now, girls-in-heels?! Me! I was comfy and well protected in my Toms! :)  It was hilarious as the day went on watching the girls (who had way too much to drink) trying to maneuver in the mud in heels. Oh to be young and carefree... They will learn...



Anyway, it was game time and our seats were great! We had so much fun sitting with the Aggies and biting our nails. We left a little early to make the drive back to Memphis (the game started at 7:30 and the fourth quarter began around 11- we were pooped). Anthony had the game on his phone so I drove back and he watched it (and I listened!). What a thriller! Glad we pulled it out!

I only wanted to prove we were at the game. 
I am so beyond embarrassed of how horrible I look in this pictures!
Why did Anthony not tell me I looked like crap?! 
As soon as I saw it I pulled my hair back and applied some lipstick. YIKES!

So this guy... Bless his heart.
He brought a cooler of food to the game- and munched on CARROTS and healthy things the entire time.
More power to you, man. 
When I think football, I think of nachos and Dr. Pepper. 


We crashed that night and had another yummy breakfast that morning before driving around Memphis a little more and hopping on our plane.

A whirlwind weekend, but it was SO greatly needed! Big thanks to my sister, my parents, and Anthony's parents for all helping out all weekend with the kids! I know they were in good hands!



So, if you want to take an SEC roadtrip- hit up Ole Miss. It's a must see. The people are so friendly, the town is adorable, and the campus is great. I would not be sad to see my kids go to that school (though the party-school part of it would scare me to death!). But really, it's a great place and I'm thankful we got to experience it!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Rearranging

One of Charley Kate's favorite past times lately is rearranging anything she can get her hands on.

I will walk in somewhere and find things that she has left in random places. While some might think it's tough to always be finding (and losing!) things, I find it quite adorable to see just what her mind is thinking. I just love seeing where she thinks things should go!

Anthony couldn't find his keys... 
Of course he should have checked in the cabinet with the diapers and puzzles!
Duh!

 Her brother might be OCD with his animals, but this girl loves her shoes!
And why don't they belong in the barn?!

Rearranging this cabinet AND taking things from the fridge and putting them here.
So incredibly helpful!

Hmmmm....
Can't figure out an explanation for this one other than she was trying to get water for the dog??

Rearranging shelves at Academy. 
Whoever set them up clearly did it wrong!

And one of my faves (an oldie but a goodie!)...
Her shoes need a home, too! 


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Daredevil!

This little girl's lack of fear never ceases to amaze me. Not only is she fearless, but she's actually very athletic as well, so put those together and the possibilities are endless (and frightening!).


Charley loves to swing on "big gool" swings now. Her favorite part is hanging backwards on them and swinging upside down.



She also loves walking on the big balance beam all by herself. She actually gets her hand in a fist and shakes it at me saying, "No mommy! Get back! I do it all bymyself!" Don't believe me on that phrase? Ask anyone who knows her- it's her very favorite saying  :)




Her other favorite pastime is riding the scooter. Not the "two year old" scooter Jay got for his birthday last year. You know, the one with a wide and steady base with three big wheels. Nope, not that one of course. She wants Jay's new scooter. The one that is faster and easier to turn. The one that "zooms" down the driveway with her on it! 

Since the weather has been so gorgeous, we have been outside every afternoon playing. All the neighbor kids are out (the next youngest to my kids is 5... then 8-13 years old). All the big kids zoom by on the scooters and Charley Kate wants nothing more than to keep up. She tries her best to stay with the big kids. Jay, on the other hand, happily scoots on his old scooter, just being as cautious as can be. He comes by that honestly, I'm afraid. I'm way more cautious than his daddy is/was. We just prefer our little safety net of not falling and getting hurt, and there is nothing wrong with that!

Here are two videos of Charley on the scooter. One she gets going pretty fast. The other she actually gets her second leg up and cruises a little. That little girl is just adorable I tell ya!



Keep in mind this little nugget is 20 months old today! 

I love this fearless girl and I love what you get with a second child!