Monday, December 31, 2012

the GOOD, the BAD, the UGLY...

...of 2012, that is...
We're going to approach the reviewing of this year's reflection a little differently and are going to look at the highs, the lows, and the downright uglies of MY family's 2012 as we move into a brand spankin' new year...one that many a crazy preppers (yes, I called you crazy because well, what else is left after you spent loads of money building 6 figure $ bunkers and preaching the canned good gospel amongst us realists when absolutely NOTHING happened?) assured us we wouldn't see.  Well, it seems that Dec. 21st has come and gone and we lived to arise to the same sun shining on the same earth on the morning of Dec. 22nd, so now I'll be moving on to what I've liked, what I've loved, what I haven't liked, what I'm so very grateful for, and what I've downright despised about the year 2012 for MY family.

First and foremost, (and most importantly), I have LOVED taking on the role of M-O-M.  My baby boy is hands down the most magnificent life force to intercept mine and I am so thankful to be his mommy.  I was chosen to be there for him and HE was chosen to be MINE.  For that fact alone, I am eternally grateful.  He is amazing beyond the definition of words; he's such a divinity that enriches AND challenges my life on a daily basis and at that, more than I ever anticipated that he could or would.  He is a true inspiration to me and has forever changed my outlook on the multi-facets that compose interactions with others and life as a whole.  Things that I once deemed soooo hugely significant and brightly important, suddenly seem so dim in comparison to him and the overall meaning and defining aspects of life.  Like a new lightbulb, it's become vividly clear that I am shaping the personality and defining qualities of another human life form and I know without question that I want to build good, upstanding character within him above anything else. Suddenly, worrying about the meaningless, petty dribble and silly gossip of other chatty catty folk just isn't worth my time or energy anymore.  I just do not care.  Thus, having a child and being a mommy is obviously a good GREAT thing about 2012.  It's the best actually.  My perspective on life and everything coinciding within has changed so much.

The GOOD:
**a BEAUTIFUL and HOT summer!  While the heat and steaming sun might have brought on a drought of the decades, this tanorexic lady could not have been more pleased as the hot, sultry summer days spent floating on a raft at the Banker Beach were simply delightful.  Having good company, family time, and/ or adult beverages to coincide as well?  Nothing better.  Love.

**weekly "family" dinners with the Carpenters.  There is absolutely NOTHING better than quality time with good company and the Carpenters are some of our very most favorite people to spend time with.  We have been intentional about spending at least some time in at some capacity with them on a weekly basis and well, it has most definitely paid off for all of our well beings.  We love them :)  Plus, they bought a house in our neighborhood this past July and the way they told me as a surprise was priceless. I'll never forget the effort they put into surprising me and exasperating my excitement - it'll honestly be something I'll never forget.  These are people worth having in your life, folks...ones that constantly want to build you up, look out for your well being and best interests no matter what, and support you in any way and I'm counting my blessings daily that they're in mine.

**The C-A-T-S CATS winning their 8TH NATIONAL TITLE!!!  Yessir, that was better than spotting a unicorn farting rainbows.  And then my child being born within 12 hours of us winning?  Amaze.

**My Dad, my Mom, and B's dad turning 60!!!!  Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!  Daaaaag, y'all is oooooold!  But it's still good because we have new material for making fun.  Yes folks, age 60 is what dream jokes are made of.

**BRAD THOMAS turning 30!!!!!!  We I threw one HELL of a vintage baseball themed celebratory bash (Toot Toooooooot goes my own horn)! And so many of his friends showed up to party with us which meant so much!

**My Big Bub (Zach) getting to spend ONE WHOLE MONTH in Winchester with us while he and Amanda were in from China....weeee ooooo weeeee oooooo...yaaaaaaaay!!!!

**The Poileses having Holden (Jack's bestie) in May.  We were actually 3 weeks apart during our pregnancies and then Jack Thomas came early (3 weeks to be exact) while Holden was right on time so now 6 weeks separate the two of them but we love, love, looooooove how close in age they are and because we (their parents) are so close and think so much of each other.  This is how lifelong friendships and relationships are established and we are excited to have them established as buddies from the word, "go".

**Spencer (our nephew) starting Kindergarten!  Cannot. believe. how. old. he. is.

**Cathryn (Prissy) turning 18!  Um, whoa.  Crazy.  She goes to college this fall.  Um...wow.

**The Carpenters bought a brand new BEAUTIFUL house....IN. OUR. NEIGHBORHOOD.  And the way they told me to make it a surprise?!?  A special memory that I am forever touched by :)

**Redneck Weekend 2012: fun times spent with the Thomases, Blanks, Stones, and Morels at the Blanks' house...and it was Dan's 60th Birthday party!!!  Wooooo Hoooooo!!!  We LOVE getting together with all the fams...it's such a blast!

**Meeting new peeps at a new school...some of you are downright amaze...you KNOW who you are and well, you pretty much rock my world :)  While I was devastated by what happened before...things OBVIOUSLY happen for a reason because there's absolutely NO way I could've functioned under the ruling of Satan (and I mean that as eloquently as it sounds) in my previous placement (teachers as spies and tattle-tales for a puppet-master?!?  How old are we?  Insecure much?) this year with ALLLLLLL I have going on.  I digress though...this is "THE GOOD" section and well, no mention of "the prince of darkness" belongs in the good.  The point of this bullet is the new circle of friendships I'm establishing a new school and well, they're divine :) 

**This GOOD applies from August to the present: Not having to have at least one night each week devoted to planning until at least 6PM and answering to someone and judgment for that...AND not being frowned upon for leaving before 4 and having a life outside of school.  I have my life back and suddenly I'm surrounded by people who get that teaching is what I do...while I LOVE it, it's not my entire life...it's my job and I get to leave all worries from the day at the door...even with the same population of students I worked with before.  It's amazing how things are different from place to place.

**Having an almost 5 month maternity leave.....HOLLLLLLLLERRRRRRR!  I got put on bedrest on March 19th.  Yes folks, MARCH 19TH.  That was 2 months before school let out and well, it was simply delightful.



---->However, with any good, there may come some bad or even some ugly.  It's not all butterflies and rainbows over here at the Thomas establishment and we are not trying to paint the picture that it is, nor are we above mentioning things that may have rocked our boats a bit.  However minuscule they may be, these thins are ever present and cannot go without mentioning because I am not an eternal optimist...I am a realist and I am an honest.  You know this. So here it comes...in with the good, comes the bad and the ugly...

...but 2012, you do still win.

The BAD
**Um, WHERE was our winter?  1 snow day?  That's booty son!  Holy moly!  Mother Nature: I am a lady, but I do feel you have been quite the tease and there is one thing this lady cannot handle is a tease.   "Arctic Oscillation" the meteorologists threw around.  Smarctic schmoscillation my butt.  You ma'am, Mrs. Mother Nature, better get your act together this school year...us teachers would all be very much obliged.  Thank you.

**Obama getting reelected.  Seriously folks... I have NO words except, I am let down as a Republican, but mainly as an American because I thought we as a nation would've gotten it together.  I realize the opposing candidate may not have been all we'd hoped, but still....seriously?!?  Lame.

**The Neon Trees.  Sara Bareilles.  Kelly Clarkson.  Need I said more?  The voice of ANY of these people make the thought of putting a pencil through my eyeballs seem more appealing than listening to one more nanosecond of the dribble they spew to the masses as "music".  Foul.  Just foul.

THE UGLY:
**Having HATE in my heart which all stemmed from the sitch at my previous school.  It's been mentioned here up on the times of the Thomases, thus I need not divulge too much or get into it really anymore at all because I've already been through the several deets many a time or ten, but it most definitely got ugggggs McGuggs with some people who needed to be called out about their idiocy, many social faux pas, and downright unfavorable behavior and shrewd and lewd activities unbecoming to ANYONE of the human race.  At this point, I have forgiven most because I have moved on (if the recent revealing of certain test scores weren't any vindication to me that things were on the wrong path from the get go and I wasn't wrong to point that fact out, then I'll say [and go with] what's most important...and that is that it's not worth my energy having hate in my heart.  Hate is also not a word I wish Jack to have in his vocabulary either), but I assure you, I have NOT forgotten.  You know how that works: forgive, but don't forget?  What goes around comes around?  Karma's a biotch?  I know that their day will too soon come and they'll realize they completely backed the wrong horse (again, any certain data prove this?!?) and when the day does come, I plan on being a better friend than they were to me.  Or not. because I probably will not see them again... But at least I will be to them in spirit.  I do pray for them, more often than one may think, and hope that they receive better treatment than they gave to me.  I do wish the best for them...I really do.   Anyway, with 2013 rolling in tomorrow, I am officially burying that box of any remnants of hatred I'm still clinging too and thinking of only the positives that I can muster from that experience and rolling on with that.

**Pregnancy weight gain.  I look in the mirror and see a larger reflection of a girl that once was.  This is silly to dwell on because yes, I gained it for the best reason in the world, but now, I really just cannot muster the "full drive" to lose the rest of it.  Which is the ugliest thing of all?  Who am I?  Some unmotivated slothen beast of an almost 30 year old?  Ew.  When I look in the mirror, I am ashamed and embarrassed. How can I show Jack that he can do anything he sets his mind to or even set goals to aspire to when I cannot even do it myself?  I see a physically ugly version of myself from the second half of 2012 and well, ughhhhhhh.  

**me trying to start a new school, get a master's and raise a baby all at the same time?  Um wowza.  Yup, it gets ugly sometimes!  I am quite stressed which can be quite ugly.  While all of those things are sensational things individually, allll together, they can be a bit ugly because my stress level is through the roof and my motivation for work completion is null (but not void...obviously!).  The bright side is that I am fast-tracking it...started last summer (2012) and am already half way done...whoooo hooooo!

_________________________________________________________________________________



**2012: you were good to me.  You gave me my child: my healthy, vibrant, vivacious, flirtatious, sweet, loving little beautiful boy.   You gave me his first cry, his first smile, his first grab, his first giggle, his first laugh, his first babble, his first flirt, his first growth spurt, his first tooth, his first picture, his first 9 months of life, his first UK outfit, his first Easter, his first July 4th, his first Halloween, his first Christmas, his Daddy's 30th, his Papaw's 60th, his NanNan's 60th, his Poppy's 60th, his Prissy becoming an adult, his first overnight without Mommy and Daddy, his first sit-up, his first spit-up, his first push-up, his first scoot, his first crawl, his first "real food", his first attachment to a girl (his mommy), his beautiful blue eyes, his first crawl, his first stand, his first fall, his first funny face...and on. And I got to be there for it all.

All in all 2012...you win...because you gave me THAT boy...MY boy, my son, my love of all loves. He encompasses all that is good in my world, especially all that was good about 2012.  You gave me the world and it comes in a 20lb package with beautiful blue eyes, spidery long chicken legs, fluttering long eyelashes, a huge gummy grin, a radiating giggle, a megawatt smile, crazy hair, a personality and disposition on life that others would kill for, and an adoration for his Mommy and Daddy that stories are written about.  All in all, with him, absolutely NOTHING else matters...no bad, no ugly, no anything else.  Everything does and DID happen for a reason and the reason was him. Without the good, the bad, or the ugly of 2012, I would not be where I am today or be the stronger, more centered, more grounded, more tolerant, or more passive person I've grown to be...and most importantly, the person WITHOUT hate in my heart.  I AM thankful for you, 2012, because 2012, YOU are my love letter to one Mr. Jack Robert Thomas.  Well played 2012, very well played indeed.**





Friday, December 28, 2012

Chicken Scampi Roll-ups (and a rambling or two)

Recipe round 2 for this little chicky this week and guess what I used?  Chicky!  Duh.  Prior pun intended.  This recipe was COMPLETELY made up by yours truly so you may think it's disgusting or you may love it...but can you do me a favor?  If you hate it, could you refrain from spreading the word to too many folk about what a hot mess I was in the creation department?!?  Thanks.

A coinciding side story to ramble for a minute...  You must know that I've reeeeeally enjoyed being home this Christmas break because 1) getting to spend all this time with my boy has been more than incredible (obviously) and 2) getting to pretend I am a stay-at-home mom and housewife and getting to actually reeeeally try new things in the kitchen has been wonderful for the life and times of the terrific Thomases (or at least we think we are).  I've had some super homemade deliciousness awaiting the hubs on the dinner table upon his arrival home from work every single night, all the while, the house is clean and things are picked up.  Believe me, I'm soaking alllllll of these days off in as it is my dream to eventually be able to be a SAHM, so I can maybe prove I can do this to one Mr. B. Thomas (not that he doubts that I can) and dominate it while I'm at it.  Then we can potentially go on and move this fantasy to reality status?!?  A girl can dream, I suppose...

Also (and to complete my random ramblings for the day), I simply HAVE TO show you this fabulousness from my mother-in-law and father-in-law and brag on them for a minute...
These were part of my Christmas present from them.  I've been wanting some FOREVER and most of you know that I like things to be different and not all matchy-matchy.  I definitely have ideas of styles of my own and like to be unique.  I think these plates are more fun all mismatched so that's just what I asked for and EXACTLY what I received!  My mother-in-law picked out the styles and designed them for me herself...and well, she ROCKED it!!!  I LOVE them and even moreso that SHE designed them, keeping with my request that they are indeed not all matchy-matchy.  Simply put, they're just too fabulous for words!  I cannot wait to customize more and add more mismatched funky, colorful patterns and styles to my collection!  See the plates for yourself and get some (or 10) customized for your kitchen HERE (LA plates!)

Okay, so now that I've gotten a bit way off track here, let's get back to this recipe business.  Chicken Scampi Roll-ups. We liked it.  Very much so, in fact ( and obviously, seeing as how I'm posting it and encouraging you to make it for yourself!), but I should warn you that you must have quite a fancy for garlic to enjoy it to its fullest (and intended) potential.  Let me also preface this by saying that I have completely avoided the grocery store over my time off, so I've had to get quite crafty and quite creative with the ingredients of my recipes because I am limited to what we have in our pantry.  This may not be full on "exactly" what a scampi entails, but hey...I went with what I had.
Thus, I put down some chicken and started brainstorming.  We had butter.  We had garlic.  We had lasagna noodles, but no manicotti, ravioli, or large shells.  We had flour, basil, and other items of the seasonings alike so a lightbulb was going off in my brain.  B and I both really love Shrimp Scampi, so I thought I'd make a chicken scampi...and since we did not have penne, bowtie pasta, or even macaroni noodles, I had to get downright resourceful with the complementing noodles to make a full-on dish out of it.  
**Also, it must be mentioned that I rarely use measurements when cooking, so all of these given in the ingredients list are approximations and you may adjust as you deem necessary while preparing.  Yes, I am one of those crazies who cooks according to taste...

WHAT YOU'LL NEED
Chicken mixture/ roll-ups-
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or 2 large) cooked (I poach - NOT boil) and shredded/ chopped (fine pieces)
 6 lasagna noodles broken in half and cooked al-dente
2 sticks (1 cup) butter (do not use margarine)
3 cloves minced garlic (if you use the "Spice World" organic brand from the jar like I do, it's 1 1/2 tsp)
2 T all purpose flour
3 T grated parmesean cheese
1 T white wine
1 T chives
2 tsp. rosemary
2 tsp. basil
2 tsp. garlic salt
1 T minced onion
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 cup sour cream
*I also added several sprinklings of this Citrus Basil Rub from Pampered Chef kitchen (truth be told, I pretty much add this stuff to everything...it's deeeeeelish!  Added to some red or Yukon gold potatoes?  Holy moly, it's an awesome side, but that's a different recipe, different day)

Basting/ Baking Sauce (to coat roll-ups prior to baking)-
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter
2 cloves minced garlic (1 tsp from jar)
1 1/2 T all purpose flour
2 T grated Parmesean cheese
2 tsp. basil
1 tsp. garlic salt
**2 cups finely shredded mozzarella or Italian cheese blend and 1/3 cup grated Parmesean cheese to cover and top all (not added to baking sauce mixture)

What you do:
Chicken mixture/ roll-ups-

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2) poach chicken breasts by bringing to a gentle boil on medium to medium high heat.  Once chicken is done, remove from water and finely chop/ shred according to size preference 

3) While chicken is poaching, prepare sauce for chicken mixture: add garlic and butter to medium pot and cook over medium low heat until butter is melted and mixture is flagrant.  Add white wine, then gradually add 1 T of flour at a time and continue stirring until mixture is smooth and thickened. 

4) Remove butter mixture from heat and stir in parmesean cheese and chives.

5) WAIT until chicken is DONE until you start the lasagna noodles.  Then, bring water to a rapid boil over high heat and add noodles, boiling until al-dente (about 8-9 min.)

6) While noodles are cooking, prepare chicken mixture - in large bowl, add chicken and stir in rosemary, basil, garlic salt, minced onion and ground black pepper.  I even added a few squeezes of lemon.  Next, add sour cream and mix until chicken mixture is even coated with spices and light coating of sour cream.  Finally, add garlic butter mixture to chicken and stir until chicken is coated evenly. 

7) Once lasagna noodles are cooked appropriately, remove from heat and drain. In a buttered an 8 x 8" dish (I used a 9 x 13" and it was too big), add rolls...  To make roll-up: take one lasagna noodle and add 1 to 2 T of chicken mixture along the flatness of the noodle and then roll from the bottom up, creating a smaller roll.  Place seam down on the buttered dish. Repeat this process until all noodles are used and chicken mixture is gone.  Make sure ends roll-ups are placed close together so if some come out during baking, it will help in reducing the amount out (at least that's my theory).

BASTING SAUCE:
8) Prepare basting sauce in EXACT same way as before for adding to chicken mixture.  Pour over rolls, careful to coat each one with an even distribution and so all the roll-ups are wet with the sauce.  

BAKING THEM:
9) Once roll-ups are coated in basting mixture, cover with two cups of mozzarella or Italian cheeses.

10) Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, remove foil and bake for another 7 minutes uncovered.

Voila!  It was super tasty deeeeeelish!  I hope you try it and enjoy it too...we sure did!  You can also adjust the number of roll-ups to your family's needs by having more chicken breasts and more lasagna noodles.  We most definitely had leftovers from our dinner sesh.

**I wish I had taken a picture so you could see...they really turned out quite pretty, but I'll leave you a few pics of my sweet little guy who has become quite the handy helper in the kitchen here lately (ha! more like, you're in there Mommy, so I'll crawl around and get. into. everything. possible.).



AND...it absolutely MUST be said: the colors of his UnderArmor are in NO WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM reflective of his fanship and liking of collegiate basketball squads.  We could not find any for his age/ size in blues when we bought this and thought if anything, it'd be reflective of my high school or just a red, white, and black shirt.  He WILL be cheering on the C-A-T-S CATS CATS CATS tomorrow, without question so please do not be mistaken and save the comments for someone somewhere else :)   GO CATS!


You know those Christmas tree cakes thingys?!?  We love them and well, so does he...obviously!




Thursday, December 27, 2012

What you should make for dinner tonight!

or tomorrow...it's kinda late now...so your neighborhood friendly blogger here has your dinner plans ready for your fixin'!  And trust me, this shiznit is the legiznit.  Real talk.

Bacon Wrapped Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf

What you'll need:
**1 lb ground beef
**12 slices bacon (7 cooked and crumbled; 5 [raw] for later in the recipe)
**1 (8-ounce) package finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
**2 large eggs, lightly beaten
**1/4 cup bread crumbs
**1/4 cup sour cream (you could use mayo, but we all know how I feel about THAT - seriously, I'm dry heaving just thinking about it)
**3 T Worcestershire sauce (2 T and then 1T)
**1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
**1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
**1 T minced onion
**1/2 cup ketchup (break into 1/4 cup servings for recipe purposes)
**3 T prepared mustard (2T and then 1T)
**1 can French fried onions

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In large bowl, combine the ground beef and next 11 ingredients, mixing well.

In a small bowl, combine the rest of the ketchup, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce

Press meat mixture into a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan, or shape into loaf in an 8 by 8" dish.  Spread remaining ketchup mixture over the meatloaf.

Use remaining 5 strips of bacon to drape over loaf in dish.  Bake for 55 minutes.


Upon removal at 55 min., top with half of French fried onions and turn oven to broil on high to make bacon crispy.  Leave meatloaf in for approx. 3-4 min.

Take out, then top with remaining French's fried onions and put back in oven on 350 for 5-7 min.

Let meatloaf stand for 5-10 minutes prior to serving and um, it. is. delicious!



**SIDENOTE: I made an extra ketchup mixture for dipping/ coating when eating and it was amazing!


Yum, yum, yummmmmm!!!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Jackbaby's FIRST Christmas!

...well, outside of the womb at least :)

Last year, I JACK looked like this...

Here they are up next to each other.  My oh my what a difference a year makes!
And this year, well...he's gone through quite the transformation from a wee bit comparable in size to a fruit/ veggie in Mommy's tummy to a wee bit of a person in our outside world.  Christmas is certainly different now with a little one and it's so very fun!  He kinda/ sorta figured out the whole present opening thing, but he sure KNEW he had new things to play with and spent the entire day exploring and enjoying...it was SO NEAT watching him learn and play and I see much enjoyment on his side AND Mommy and Daddy's sides in the future.  Last year I went through our Christmas traditions with you which you can read about HERE.  Other than that, I'm just going to share a few of my favorites from the boatloads of pics I snapped of my terrific Toots man (the rest are in an album on fb):

BUT FIRST, I must inform you that Toots has taken quite a liking to one of his gifts in particular...a "Tigger Bounce" from his Mamaw and Papaw (B's parents) so I thought I'd share a little vid of his reaction (EVERYTIME, I might add) to his new fave friend (B and I really like it too because ol' Tig bops up and down to Kris Kross's "Jump Jump", circa 1992 - a REAL blast from the past and well, we dig it :) and are pumped J does too!)


Christmas Eve present watching :)

taking a little rest after all the present opening

this is Christmas Eve morning - playing with some old toys and toys he got from Christmas with Mamaw and Papaw

he's my blue-eyed babe

love his little face off!!!

this is a new face.  Not sure how I feel about it :/

there's my sweetie

and then there's my gigglepuss

Mommy and Jack ready for Christmas Eve church service

easily distracted

love my little fam :)

Jack's got the deer caught in the headlights look

Thomas: family of 3

Jack's clearly on a mindset of his own here - haha!

so sweet - hims wuvs his NanNan

"can I open just one, Mommy?!?"

sweet, happy babe 


Activity Cube - the noises are still ringing in my ears


Jackman and his Prissy 

blue-eyed sweet precious babe

my little froggy

froglet :)


Daddy went to throw away some boxes and he waited at the gate to our front foyer until his return  - so sweet

HAPPY babe!  Hiiiiiiii Precious!




 We're going to play a little game here.  It's called, "Where's Waldo: Jack Edition" because with this boatload of goodies, he's more likely a spawn of Where's Waldo and Carmen San Diego, than one Mr. and Mrs. Brad Thomas.


 Okay, back to my cutie :)