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Category: Life

Fun At The Mall On Spring Break

It’s been a while since I actually sat down to blog about our family activities! Life’s just so busy all the time that when I do finally have a moment to relax, I use that time to catch up with friends on Facebook or #NetflixAndChill. But this week is Spring Break for us, so I have a little extra time on my hands. I really should be catching up on dishes and laundry today, but I’m being a rebel and blogging instead. Yesterday was such an amazingly fun day for us, full of little moments I want to treasure forever!

Tristyn and Taylor just celebrated their 7th and 11th birthdays last month. Both girls enjoyed their joint slumber party. Some of their friends gave them super cute, fun gifts, but between the friends and family that gave them cash, they ended up with $150 and $200 to spend! So naturally, a trip to the mall was in order!

My favorite thing about the weekends and breaks is SLEEPING IN! I normally get up at 6am, so even sleeping til 8:30am is a TREAT! Joe Daddy had an errand to run, so I got to take my time taking a shower, shaving my legs, and getting dressed. And not in gym clothes for a change!

I even got to paint my nails! I recently painted my toe nails for the first time since last summer, but I can’t remember the last time I painted my finger nails, let alone had them coordinate! LOL!

#ObligatoryIGotDressedTodaySelfie

We didn’t hit the road til after noon so we could eat lunch at home and save dinner for the food court.

Doesn’t Jules look thrilled? LOL!

He says he hates having his picture taken, but this picture tells me otherwise 😉

He’s pretty good at pretending though!

NOT! LOL! #Teenagers

Our first stop was Toys R Us. I think Toys R Us is just an over-priced toy store, but despite my suggestion to skip it, the kids (and Joe Daddy) insisted we go.

Of course, Ty found all the Poppies!

And the lovies! My girls are OBSESSED with stuffed animals!

Since Taylor and Tristyn were the only ones with money to spend, but their daddy is a sucker and felt like the other little girls needed to be able to get something, he gave Trini and Ty each $20 to spend at either Toys R Us or the mall. The first thing they picked out were Power Puff dolls for $10.

Then we found the clearanced stuff animal aisle…

Yes, even the tween is obsessed with stuffed animals.

They rode…

…sat on…

…and loved on every. single. stuffed animal in sight!

Taylor ended up getting a big Beanie Boo knock-off unicorn for $9.99!

Ty got the fox for the same price!

Trini’s wasn’t a clearance item (it was $9.99 as well), but her sisters both got Barbie dogs at the store recently with their allowance, but Walmart only had two options, this one not being one of them. Now they all have their own Barbie dog, which means less fighting! 🙂

I was really proud of Tristyn! She was the only one of her sisters who didn’t get something at Toys R Us.

She wasn’t thrilled about it.

But she didn’t pitch a fit!

We stopped for a selfie while we waiting for Taylor to check out.

Then she jumped in! LOL!

Notice how Joe Daddy wanted nothing to do with that! LOL!

After Toys R Us, we headed to the mall! We always take a trip to the local mall on Black Friday weekend so we can take pictures with Santa at Bass Pro and catch all the great deals on Christmas gifts. The kids even love eating in the food court! For this mall trip, the girls wanted to go to the one with the American Girl Bistro and Boutique, which is an hour away versus 30 minutes. It’s a much nicer mall with different stores, so it was worth the extra drive time. We even managed to avoid crazy traffic with I85 out of commission after it caught on fire and collapsed a couple days ago!

This store is the devil, but even I LOVE it!

They have these cute new smaller dolls that we hadn’t seen before!

They had a cute little playhouse set up near them that the girls adored.

We’ve gone to the AGB&B at least once every year for the past 3 years and there is always something new to see!

I’m such a sucker for the cute little set-ups they have with the dolls!

I’m not big enough of a sucker to go into debt buying it all, but I do take the time to take pictures of them!

These oldies ones were my favorite this visit! How stinkin’ cute are they???

I also really liked the new boy doll (Logan) and the country girl (Tenney)!

Image result for tenney doll

Tenney has the cutest freckles! If she had blue eyes, she’d look just like Trini!

How totes adorbs are her outfits too?!

Speaking of totes adorbs…I know they hate me for this now, but they are gonna love it one day! LOL!

You know they just had to be thrilled to be in this doll store! LOL!

His look says it all! “Mom, you are such a psycho. Kill me now.” Hahahaha! Carolyn’s more like: “Why do I keep agreeing to hang out with this lady???”

As usual, we had to get a picture with the American Girl of the Year (Gabriela)! Is it sad that I know so much about these dolls? (I’m gonna go with NO! LOL!)

The Littles have regular American Girl dolls but showed a particular interest in the baby dolls this go round.

They love pretending they’re mommies, which is the sweetest thing ever! They already know exactly how many and what kind of babies they want when they grow up (despite my efforts to inform them that it’ll be a joint desicion between them and whoever they marry, LOL!).

Of course, they wanted all the babies and all the baby stuff, so we had to remind them that Tristyn was the only one with money and if she wanted a baby doll from American Girl, she was gonna have to spend almost half of her money on it, and another $30 for an outfit. She was adamant that that’s what she wanted, but we told her we’d come back after we visited the rest of the mall, just in case.

The escalator is exciting business, which should tell you how often we get out! LOL!

I normally walk really fast while avoiding eye contact with the little side vendors, but this one was really cool! We were {this} close to going home with a few of these!

We walked around the mall together for a bit before splitting up. Joe Daddy went off with Jules and Carolyn while the girls and I visited some “girly” stores.

First, we went into Claire’s, where Taylor found the most adorable mermaid friendship necklaces (she’s real into mermaids right now)!

Imagine my surprise when she gave it to me!!! She really is my bestie! This confirms it!

Tristyn also got friendship necklaces, floral owls! One’s for her friend Layla, her bestie in class this year who wasn’t able to come to her party and get one of the friendship necklaces she gave out then. They had a special where you buy 2 items get a 3rd free, which we didn’t know about til we checked out, so Tristyn ended up getting a $6 hand sanitizer and holder for free!

Then we went in Justice, where Tristyn got a little dog (Ellie) for $10, and Taylor got a pair of althetic shorts for $7!

Then we went into Bath and Body Works, where Tristyn agreed to buy her little sisters their very own hand sanitizer and holder! They had a special Buy 5 for $6, and the holders were $1, so she spent less than $10 and got to keep 3 of the hand sanitizers (something else they are obsessed with). Plus, she made her sisters the happiest girls in the whole wide world! The cashier was so sweet and gave them each their very own bag. They plopped down while Taylor checked out with her ten hand sanitizers and two cases, and divied up their loot. Several workers and customers came over to oooh and ahhh at how adorable they were, especially with their dolls on their backs! LOL! Trini and Ty thanked Tristyn several times, hugged her, and told her she was the best sister ever! It was such a sweet moment to witness!

After that, we hopped back on the escalator.

Weeeee!

At the bottom of the escalator, we spotted the Easter Bunny! He (she?) was so cute and started playing peek-a-boo with the girls!

They all know the Easter Bunny is just a person in a costume, just like the cow at Chick-fil-A, but they get excited all the same.

Then we spotted Hot Topic, one of the few stores Jules and Carolyn wanted to go into (they said no to Spencer’s because it’s too “cringy,” whatever that means, LOL). Jules found a t-shirt he liked but didn’t want his dad to spend $22 on it, so he ended up getting nothing.

The girls had fun trying on headbands! LOL!

Then we headed into Build-A-Bear, the place we used to have their grandfather take them for their birthdays. I think they each have 5 BABs! Maybe more!

BAB is another one of those stores that is just TOO CUTE!

Every time we’ve gotten the kids a bear from there, I couldn’t resist getting an outfit and some accessories too!

On her 4th birthday, Trini got the purple pony on the right (Twilight Sparkle) from her grandfather. He also bought her an outfit, including a shirt, skirt, shoes, and roller skates! It only cost him $60!!! Trini dragged that pony around everywhere! It was the cutest thing! We also have the Elsa and Anna outfits, including the wigs (among a bunch of other stuff)! Why does all the cute stuff have to be so expensive???

I mean, come on! Chewbacca in bunny ears! #ICantEven

You know these have to be flying off the shelf right now! I’ve heard the new movie is AWESOME! #GoGoPowerRangers

Of course, you know which ones we loved the most!

Ty is really hoping they still have Poppy when it’s her birthday!

I couldn’t resist! Haha! The resemblance is striking! LOL!

He claims he can no longer smile without twitching. I think he’s a #DramaQueen!

When we went into BAB, I wasn’t expecting anyone to get anything. I thought we were just looking around, but Taylor found a super soft cuddly panda (which Ty is slightly obsessed with at the moment after getting one from her teacher at church and another from her grandfather’s basement treasure trove). She was so sweet and let Ty be the one to press the pedal to stuff it!

Then the girl helping put the bear together gave all 3 of The Littles their own heart to put inside it! Taylor just watched (and recorded) them loving on the hearts…

…making a wish…

…and putting them into the bear…

…one by one.

She even let them help her name it!

Meet Poppy Panda!

She even let Ty carry Poppy around for a while!

The love these girls show for one another AMAZES me! I wish I could say it’s because I’m such an awesome mom, but I know I can’t take all the credit. They are their own people. I’m thankful to have them in my life, but mostly I’m thankful they have each other! My sisters are my very best friends! I hope they are just as close when they grow up! (And hopefully, their brother will come around too ;)).

After BAB, we ventured into the Disney Store. Tristyn was eager to get back to American Girl to get her baby doll, so we ran through quickly.

We started to leave when we realized we were short a couple and found them hiding out, LOL!

On the way back to AG, we found a cute toy store we had to stop in. They had the cutest puppets!

Joe Daddy has a thing for puppets, so he was extra excited 😉

Back at AG, Tristyn had a tough choice to make! Both babies looked a lot like her! One was more like winter her, and one was more like summer her! LOL!

She ended up getting a Bitty Baby and one outfit for $90 (shew! Glad it was her money and not mine! LOL)!

Her sisters helped her make the best choice.

She was soooo excited to show her daddy what she got!

So which one did she choose???

Don’t ask these guys. They have NO clue! LOL!

The more like winter her one! LOL!

She named her after herself: Mikaela 🙂

And here she is in her new outfit!

Then, after 2 hours of shopping, we finally sat down to eat!

After scouring the food court for the most economical choice, we decided on Farmer’s Market since they had a deal for 2 meats and 2 sides for $6.70. Joe Daddy and I wanted to get something somewhat healthy, so we chose grilled chicken, BBQ chicken, green beans, and potatoes. It was actually pretty good!

Jules and Carolyn split a meal…

…and each of the girls shared with one of their sisters. We brought our own waters in, so we only paid $28 for 4 meals for 8 people! Not bad!

After a trip to the bathroom…

We headed home! We were pooped!

Look at him smiling! I think he secretly likes me taking his picture 😉

Ty was so excited to get back to her fox! We didn’t go straight home though. Joe Daddy and Jules wanted to go to Fry’s Electronics, so we made a pit-stop at another mall about half an hour away from home (not the usual one we frequent, but one we’ve been to before).

While the boys (and Carolyn) were geeking out, the girls and I went to Dollar General down the street. Tristyn had bought her friend one of these lip gloss phones for her birthday, and I guess she told her friend how much she wished she had one, so her friend bought her one for her birthday. Well, Trini and Ty found some in the mall they wanted, but they were $10! So I promised them we’d find a Dollar General and get them the $2 option. (Thank goodness they still had them!) Because I thought they were $3, I let them each get a $1 notebook as well.

Taylor found a cute little glitter-in-a-bottle necklace-making kit for $1! She made the necklace today 🙂

She also found a really cute Vera Bradley knock-off wallet and super cute rubber pig coin pouch (she adores pigs)! The price tags said $5 and $3, but they rang up $1.50 and $0.90!

Tristyn had $2 left, so she bought a wallet for $1.50 as well.

I managed to get through Toys R Us and the mall without buying anything, but I couldn’t resist these little $3 fake succulents!

My 2nd batch of cacti have been looking pretty awful (I’m a terrible plant keeper). I’ve managed to keep these alive for over a year, but in all honestly, I don’t really care for growing things. Maybe it’s because I’m just too forgetful and have too much other stuff going on so I suck at it. I’ve decided to give myself a pass and stop trying for a while. Maybe when life slows down I’ll give it another go.

I love plants. I just don’t take care of them very well! LOL! These fake ones will do just fine 😉

By the time we got home after dropping Carolyn off, it was after 9pm. The girls made videos of their haul and passed right out. Joe Daddy and I watched a couple episodes of 13 Reasons Why (which is so friggin’ good!) and went to bed ourselves so we could get up early for the gym.

Today was a pretty yucky day, but Joe Daddy and I still made it to the gym (although he went with a friend to his gym). The girls have played with all of their new stuff non-stop. Taylor even made Mikaela some felt diapers (out of felt leftover from Christmas projects, so they’re all red and green, LOL!).

I’m so glad these kids can be happy with so little! Joe Daddy and I are beyond broke right now after having to shell out so much extra money for birthdays (we had to buy for 6 kids in addition to our own this month!), 3 field trips, 3 Field Day shirts, buying 4 new iPhones, getting a few summer items like shorts, swimsuits, and sandals, Easter outfits (a $7 dress for Taylor and a $12 shirt for Joe; I bought all the other stuff a while ago), Easter basket stuff (which I tried to keep to a minimum), and paying our income tax ($850, ouch!), among other things. Living without credit cards is totally new to us (although this is our 6th consecutive month of doing it since we paid them all off), and I’m not gonna lie and say it’s been easy. The only way I’ve been able to cut back at this point (since we’ve cut back on every other bill I can think of), is through our groceries. For the past month, I’ve been buying the cheapest stuff possible. I’ve bought very little organic stuff, and we’ve had lots of sandwich or salad nights. We’ve even had nights where we’ve eaten cereal for dinner! We have never eaten like this, but in doing so, we’ve cut our $400 a week grocery budget down to $150, which has helped, but money’s still been tight. Had it not been for Joe Daddy selling so much of his junk pile, we wouldn’t be able to do anything for Spring Break. Trini and Ty each spent under $14, I spent under $7, Tristyn and Taylor spent only their own money, and we ate out for less than $30, so with what we spent in gas, we spent around $55 for the day. I know we could have spent less, but I’m pretty proud of how well we did! And because money still going to be tight next month with my first car payment on the new van coming up, as well as filling up the pool, and needing to pay off a couple doctor’s bills we’ve gotten recently, Taylor’s offered to spend the last $60 of her birthday money on summer clothes for herself (she’s outgrown most of her shorts from last year)! I’m pretty thankful for kids who understand the value of money and that you can’t always get what you want (although they still struggle when they can’t get something, just like I do). We’ve tried to teach them how to use their money wisely, but in all honesty, we got into all of our debt by NOT doing the same with ours and saying yes to too many things, mostly things for them. I still want to be able to do fun stuff as a family, and since Joe Daddy took this week off as well, we’re spending more than we want, but considerably less than we have spent in the past. We have 3 more fun-filled outings planned for this week together which should only add up to another $100. I say 4 family days together for $155 for a family of 7 is pretty frugal!

I hope you are enjoying your week, wherever you are, whether you’re on break or not!

 

No, We Haven’t Won The Lottery

This week has been like Christmas for us!

Last Thursday I posted pics of my family at the circus.

Tuesday I posted pictures of my BRAND NEW 2017 Toyota Sienna SE!

And by pictures, I mean alllll the pictures! LOL!

My sister said, “I can’t think of anyone else in my entire facebook friends list that managed to post 30 + pics of a new car ? #OnlyYou!”

#AintNoShameInMyGame

Then yesterday, I posted a pic of 4 new iPhone SE’s!

And last night, I posted pics from mine and Joe Daddy’s Date Night to Outback for steak and lobster and drinks at Ovation where we saw Get Out. 

Now, only one person mentioned something about me coming into some serious cash, and one other person at work asked Joe Daddy, “How the heck can you afford that?” when he saw our new car, but I know there have to be more people wondering:

Did they win the lottery? Did someone die? Did they get a huge income tax return???

And don’t get me wrong, I don’t owe anyone an explanation. I can spend my husband’s hard earned (or randomly won) money however I damn well please! But there’s one thing I’ve learned about sharing things like this on social media: You can let people make assumptions, or you can just tell them the truth. Sometimes, I let people make assumptions, but I find that there’s more to gain in being transparent.

So to answer those questions: No. NO. And unfortunately, nope :(.

First of all, I don’t play the lottery, so it’d be pretty hard for me to win. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with playing. I just don’t care to waste my money on it (not that I don’t waste it on plenty else).

Secondly, I don’t have any wealthy relatives (at least none that I know of), and I barely have any extended family left that could die and leave me any money (but if you are related to me, have money, are getting ready to die, and have nowhere else to pass your wealth along, please amend your will NOW!).

And lastly, we actually OWE on our income taxes for the first time ever this year thanks to the repayment of our First Time Homebuyer’s Credit we took out in 2008 (the year before Obama gave out the ones that don’t have to be paid back) and penalties for not having insurance on the kids for 3 months (which was out of our control). We also had less taken out of our paychecks so we could have more money throughout the year, knowing we’d get a smaller return, but Joe Daddy ended up getting more 1099 commissions than ever before, which doesn’t get any taxes taken out of it. So instead of getting back $1,000 like last year, we owe $850. Since we weren’t expecting to have to pay that, Joe Daddy sold some of his junk (a couple cars, some car parts, and even his 4-wheeler) and got enough money to not only pay our tax bill, but buy himself a camper to go hunting in, and take me out on a date last night (which I helped pay for with a gift card to Outback, who just so happened to be running their $15 steak and lobster special, that I got from my friends for my birthday a couple months ago).

As for the new car, our old van was just too big for us. There’s only 7 of us. It sat 12. I used to like having the extra seating for all my nieces and nephews, but I hardly ever have all the kids in there now that they’ve started growing up and doing their own thing. I hardly ever even have my entire family in there anymore! With Ty starting school this year, I just didn’t want to be driving that big gas guzzler all over town by myself! We looked into slightly used vans, but the financing is just so much better on a brand new one, so we ended up getting a much better deal going new. My husband works for Toyota, so we got a super amazing deal on a 2017 Toyota Sienna Sports Edition, so I was able to get one with heated leather seats and some extra bells and whistles for almost $10,000 less than sticker price (including the equity we had in our old van). Our monthly payment is $100 more than before (and we’ve lengthened the time we’ll have a car payment by three years), but the gas mileage on this van is an average of 7 miles more to the gallon than my old one, so I’m hoping to save around $80 per month in gas! And luckily, our car insurance only went up $3 per month!

We’ve made some recent changes to our budget that should help as well! First, we cut off the cable. Comcast was gouging us for $250 every month up until a few months ago. We downgraded our service to just high speed internet and home phone for just $80 per month (including taxes and fees)! We bought an antenna for $22 and stream Hulu and Netflix for $18 per month on the 3 Rokus we got for $70. We absolutely love watching TV this way! I wish I would have done it much sooner! Absolutely worth the $150 we’re saving each month!

We were also fortunate enough to have a health care option other than Obamacare this year! My husband’s employer had a similar option to our old plan that is $130 cheaper than what we were paying (which was still over $100 cheaper than our options through the Marketplace this year) for even better coverage! Our copayments are the same, but our deductible is half as much!

This week marks the end of our 18 month cell phone lease through T-Mobile. 18 months ago, they were offering a 4 line unlimited family plan for only $120. We were told our new leased iPhones would only be $15 with trade-in, but our trade-ins weren’t the specific ones they wanted (which we didn’t find out until well after we gave them our phones, so we didn’t even get to try and sell them!), so we ended up having to pay $30 per month, making our bill $240 (which meant we were paying more for the phones than the service)! We were super ticked that our salesperson ripped us off, and T-Mobile did nothing to rectify it, so we decided long ago that we would not be continuing to use their service. We had Boost for years before and absolutely loved it (we only switched to get iPhones), but we wanted to stick with iPhones, so we took a look at Sprint (since it’s the same network Boost uses, which worked better than T-Mobile, IMO). They had a pretty good deal on the new iPhone SE’s ($450, which is $300 cheaper than the price of the iPhone 6’s we leased) and 4 lines (unlimited) for $90 for the first year! Unfortunately, that price would go up to $160 during the 2nd year. Out of curiosity, we checked out what Boost had to offer. They had the same iPhone SE’s for $230! And their unlimited family plan for 4 people is only $95 (if you are a new customer and sign up for Autopay, which I always do anyway)! It was $704 cheaper per year to go with Boost over Sprint! If you haven’t heard of the iPhone SE, check it out here! We went with the 64 g. You can get the 16 g for $50 less ($180), but we’ve had 16 g for the past 18 months and that was the only thing I didn’t like about my old iPhone, I couldn’t keep all the apps on there that I wanted. With this new plan, we’ll be saving $107 per month (if you include the cost of the phone; $145 if you don’t)!

Unfortunately, my husband’s Civic died late last year so we just purchased him a new car as well. He got a super good deal on a 2017 Toyota Prius 2. That second car payment pretty much eats up a lot of the savings I mentioned above, but add the $80 per month we save in gas with the Prius, the $16 per month we save in not needing roadside assistance (since it came with both of the new cars), and $100 per year we are saving in not renewing our Amazon Prime membership, and we are still saving over $100 per month! I’ll take anything I can get though! Plus, now we have two new cars that get way better gas mileage, better TV watching options, and better cell phones and service for less money!

I know money is one of those subjects people don’t like to talk about. I used to be one! My husband and I just had to take out a ginormous personal loan (we’re talking a monthly payment larger than our mortgage!) to pay off our mountain of credit card debt a few months ago. It was not a good feeling seeing how much our thoughtless spending is going to cost us in the long run, but talking about my weaknesses and getting advice from people who have successfully pulled themselves out of debt is what has helped me stopped using the credit cards (for 5 months now! Wahoo!), start sticking to my budget, and having regular conversations with my family about the things we need verse want and whether or not we can actually afford certain things, like the circus, which was definitely a want, but we just couldn’t pass up the chance to take our kids to the last presentation of the Greatest Show on Earth! Some things are worth spending money you should be putting elsewhere (like paying down the debt)! We still have a ways to go before we can celebrate a debt-free victory (5 years unless we can pay it off sooner), but we are finally moving in the right direction, so I am celebrating that!

And maybe by being transparent with you on where I’ve failed and succeeded will help you reach your financial goals as well! Or at least maybe you can read about my struggles and know that you either aren’t alone or you’re doing a much better job than me! LOL!

 

If You Wanna Spend Time With Me

As I sit here typing this, in my pajamas, slippers, deep pore cleaning face mask, and mom bun, sipping my coffee, listening to my favorite radio station, I feel… peaceful.

This is one of my happy places. No one is talking to me, no one is asking anything of me. I can just BE. 

Don’t get me wrong, I have other happy places that invoke feelings other than peacefulness.

I love going to the gym (heck, I better love it if I’m gonna spend up to 12 hours a week there!). When I’m at the gym, I feel energized, motivated, accomplished. 

I love spending time with my children. They make me feel love, hope, purpose. 

I love spending time with my husband. He makes me feel desired, sexy, grounded. 

I love spending time with my friends. They make me feel adventurous, connected, young, wild and free.

But if I’m being honest, each of these happy places, which involve spending time doing things with others, also drain me. 

After a while, they invoke feelings of exhaustion, and if I’m not careful, I can become quite overwhelmed.

have to decompress…and I have to do it alone…and it’s best if I do it every day.

I used to think being introvert was a nice way to tell people that I’m just not that social, but I don’t think that’s true.

I am very social! I love people (albeit certain ones)! I just have to have time between seeing them to recharge my social batteries.

Funny thing is, all social interactions drain me, not just the ones with family and friends.

On a typical, non-eventful day I will wake up at 6am, get myself ready, wake up the kids, help the Littles get ready and eat breakfast, take 4 of them to school, come home for 30 minutes to start a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher, and see my husband off to work, hit the gym for 2 hours, come home for lunch at 11:30am, veg-out on the computer for an hour while Ty watches TV, do more laundry, wash dishes, sweep and mop the floors, vacuum, wipe down a few surfaces, start dinner, pick up the girls from the bus stop, have dinner with the kids at 4pm, clean up after dinner, help the Littles with their homework, do more laundry, get the Littles to clean up their play mess, help them take a bath, help them get ready for bed, and read a book to each of them before tucking them in, say goodnight to the Bigs, and settle down on the couch with my hubby and a drink from 8-10pm.

So, on a typical non-eventful day, I get one hour to decompress by myself in the middle of the day and two to unwind before bed. Some people might not need that, but I really, really do!

Now, add in my Tuesday night Zumba class, Wednesday grocery shopping and tumbling for Taylor, doctor’s/dentist’s appointments, things like pre-k and high school registration or fun family trips to the circus, and birthday parties on the weekends, and you can see why I end up spending an entire day vegging out from time to time!

It’s also the reason I struggle to keep my kids in extra-curriculars and am really choosy in how many play dates and Girls’ Nights I plan.

Regular life is pretty exhausting for someone like me.

But I love my life! I love my family and friends! I love going on adventures and trying new things!

I just can’t do it ALL THE TIME.

I need a break here and there.

Actually, I need a break pretty often.

So if you wanna spend time with me, invite me to something! Just don’t expect to see me too often. And don’t hold your breath waiting for ME to make a plan to spend time with you.

It’s not you.

The only thing I ever really make a plan to do outside of the things I have to do is decompress.

It’s not because I don’t want to see you.

I just need a break from EVERYTHING more.

Love, Your Friendly Introvert Who Really Is Social

Another Kitchen Makeover Complete!

2008-7-25-7

When we bought our house 8 years ago, THIS is what the kitchen looked like. Yeah, I wasn’t a fan either. Can you say BORRRRIIIINNNNGGGG?!

2008-7-25-5

Those honey colored cabinets! Those gold knobs! Those cream colored walls! Yuck, yuck, yuck!

2008-7-25-6

I clearly didn’t always take great pictures (haha!), but you can see that the kitchen needed a makeover.

bullock-ridge-381

The first thing we did, before we even moved in, was paint all of the walls. We had lived in rentals for the previous 5 years, so we were oooover white walls. My mom gave us her old kitchen rugs, which had black, burgundy, olive green, and yellow in it, so we painted one living room a yellowish beige, the other (which also had the dining room in it) an olive green, and the kitchen a cranberry/burgundy. They weren’t my favorite colors, but they went with the hand-me-downs we had been given.

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I knew those honey colored cabinets and gold knobs had to go, but I put that task off for a bit.

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We originally used the eat-in-kitchen as just that, but quickly realized the closet for the laundry wasn’t gonna cut it.

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Because the rugs (and the counters) had black in them, I decided to paint the cabinets black (against the warnings from our parents that they wouldn’t look good).

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The kitchen was small, but I thought the cabinets looked way better black than that honey color. I really wanted white (especially since we had white appliances), but I didn’t think they’d go well with the rest of the house and decor.

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We took the table out of the kitchen and made this little space into a folding/hanging station for the laundry, which was much more useful.

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Eventually, I got sick of all those ugly colors and painted the whole house beige so I could decorate with more colorful stuff. Those black rugs were a pain to keep clean, so I bought some new ones. Again, this wasn’t really the style I wanted, it was just what went with what we had.

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We also bought new stainless steel appliances when our fridge stopped working. If I could go back, I’d keep the white ones we had and just buy a new side-by-side white fridge. I hate trying to keep these stainless ones clean, and I’m not a fan of the bottom freezer.

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The stainless appliances definitely looked better than the white with the black cabinets.

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Because there wasn’t much color I could add into the kitchen, I grew tired of the beige walls. I wanted to paint them a blue to match the blue in the rugs I bought, but I had a hard time matching it for some reason. After painting the kitchen three different colors, I settled on this one.

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I also hung some curtains to hide the laundry area! Man, I wish I would have thought of that sooner!

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I loved the idea of hanging colorful plates on the wall! Unfortunately, I hung them on a wall that no one ever sees!

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A few weeks ago, I happened upon this cute valence at Walmart. It was so cute and only $10 and went so well with the rest of the house…just not with the kitchen in its current state. I took the valence with me to the paint department and got a gallon of teal paint and a gallon of white paint. I decided I would finally paint the cabinets white!

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I also grabbed a green rug to match the valence. I knew the hardest part would be parting with my old rugs. Having rugs in the kitchen meant I didn’t have to sweep and mop every day, just vacuum.

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Oddly enough, since it took me three weeks to finish painting the cabinets, I got used to the kitchen being rug-free. I almost didn’t want to put the rugs in there!

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The teal came out much brighter than I expected, but it’s really grown on me!

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The white cabinets really make the kitchen feel bigger. I really wasn’t expecting that, even though I know that’s why you want to paint small spaces light colors. And I replaced all of the knobs from the antique-looking silver to a brushed nickel. I was surprised how much of a difference they made as well!

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The stainless appliances look great with the white too, but once they need to be replaced, white will look even better! 😉

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I was able to keep all of the old decor on the walls. I lowered the fork and spoon a bit (I centered it to the cabinets before and didn’t really like the way it looked, but never bothered to change it). I also spray painted the stools a turquoise (which is another color from the valence). They were the same color blue as the walls before.

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I took down my wine rack since I don’t drink anymore (45 days and counting!) and moved the clock to the other side of the kitchen with the chalk board so I could put my plates in a place where they’d get plenty of views! 🙂

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The plates are my favorite! 🙂 I also got a new utensil holder that’s bigger and prettier than my old black one ($12 at Walmart!).

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I also changed the red swirly curtains I had up before to these more neutral gray ones (which I have a picture of somewhere, I just didn’t feel like searching for one and I didn’t bother to take before pics of the kitchen right before I started painting).

As you can tell, the kitchen has changed quite a bit over the years! It took me a while to realize that it wouldn’t be that expensive to just buy the style stuff that I like instead of trying to match the crap that was given to me. I spent less than $200 to makeover the kitchen this time between the rugs, the curtains, the utensil holder, the valence, the new knobs, paint, and Command strips to rehang everything! Not bad at all!

I love my new kitchen all by itself, but I love it even more because now, it goes with the rest of the house, which I’ve spent years making over to reflect my personality and style. If I have to be at home so much, I may as well love the space I’m looking at all day! LOL!

And in case you’re wondering, YES, I will be doing another makeover in the future! Eventually, we want to tile the entire house with a hardwood looking tile, including the kitchen and bathrooms. When we do that, we also plan to redo the back splash, counter tops, get a new sink and faucet, and replace the light fixture. There’s always gonna be something that needs redoing! I can’t look at the same old stuff for too long! 😉

The Best Labor Day Weekend EVER!!!

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I was so excited when my sister Lauren called last week and told me she was coming to visit over the long weekend, like sooo excited! My sister lives 7 hours away in the rural hills of Kentucky, so we can’t exactly visit her (there’s literally no where to stay), and since she works full-time and has 2 small children, visiting us isn’t possible but once or twice a year. I was really surprised when she called to say they were coming this weekend because they had just come to visit at the end of May and this weekend just so happened to also be my youngest niece Madison’s first birthday!

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I was thrilled to hear that she wanted to stay at our house the entire time! Usually, she splits her time between my house and my other sister’s house, which is only 5 minutes away. I like when she stays with me because I feel like I get more time with her than when she stays at my sister’s and I just go to visit with her for a few hours. My girls really like getting to spend the night with their cousin Bailey (who is Trini’s age), too. I know she doesn’t like having to pack up and move houses, even though they aren’t far apart, but I really hate when she doesn’t stay at our house any of the nights that she comes. I guess I’ll just have to get over it because she’s decided to take turns from now on. I told my other sister I’ll just have to send all of my girls to spend the night at her house when they come to visit next time! Haha!

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Anyway, they started their journey here after Bailey got home from school and my sister got home from work, so they didn’t get here until 11pm. We set the baby up in the living room with my sister and put my brother-in-law and Bailey in the bottom bunk with Taylor, who was asleep like the rest of the girls (Trini passed out at 4:30pm! #KindergartenIsExhausting). The next morning, everyone woke up super early, except me. They were kind enough to let me sleep til 10am. I needed it after staying up late all week painting my kitchen (which still isn’t finished). My sister had some returns to make at Children’s Place and Carter’s and we needed to find a birthday cake for the birthday girl’s party!

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I love that no matter how much time they’ve spent apart, they just mesh together when they see each other again! #CousinsMakeTheBestFriends

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After we finished returning her items, we made a pit stop at Chick-fil-A (since my sister and I both were so excited to go shopping we forgot to eat…and the kids are always hungry for chicken nuggets ;)), then we went to Kroger and found cupcakes, an ice cream cake, a smash “cupcake,” and some other stuff for the birthday party.

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When we got back to the house, I set up a back drop and got a couple outfits and accessories ready so we could take Maddie’s first birthday pictures! I haven’t been able to take all of my nieces’ birthday pictures, but I’m glad I’ve been able to do some!

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We dressed that baby up all purdy and began hooting and hollering our best to try and get a smile out of her. This was the best we could do. Sad, I know. She was smiling up a storm afterwards! The little stinker!

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I don’t go gaga for babies anymore (I’ve had my fill I guess! LOL!), but I couldn’t get enough of this little doll!

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Isn’t she precious???

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Soooo stinking precious!!!

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Of course, she wanted nothing to do with her smash cake. Nothing. She kept staring at us like, “How long must I sit here avoiding this thing???”

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We did get her to touch it once on her own…

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…then we helped her of course 🙂

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And she did end up sticking her foot in it after a while, haha!

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She ended up getting more cake on her dress than in her mouth, but that’s OK! It was still cute as can be!

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As the birthday girl, she was entitled to do what she pleased 😉

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This one would  have been my favorite had it not come out blurry 🙁

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I wanted to capture her “smashing” her cake during the photo shoot on video, so I gave Taylor my phone. She ended up taking a couple of cute pictures! This is one of them.

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This was another one.

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Which I thought also looked nice in black and white 🙂

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After the photo shoot, we loaded the van up with kids, drinks, mac and cheese, and chips and headed to my sister Monika’s house. The kids swam (in the freezing cold pool…glad I decided to drain mine instead of trying to keep it clean another week!) and played while the rest of us watched MoMo cook.

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Maddie enjoyed chewing on my necklace 🙂

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One of the most exciting things about that day was getting to celebrate Maddie’s first birthday with my PawPaw (my mom’s dad). Up until a couple years ago, he wasn’t really apart of our lives. He and my mom had a falling out when I was 8 or so and because they’re both stubborn as mules, we didn’t see him again until I was 19. Over the past 15 years, he’s spent a lot of his time working and caring for his wife who died last year, so in that time, I’ve only seen him 4-5 times, and 3 of those times have been in the past year. I’m thankful for his presence in our lives now. The kids couldn’t be more excited to have another PawPaw! And now he’s finally met all 11 of them!

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Once the burgers and hot dogs had been grilled, we ate! Then we sang ♫Happy Birthday♪ and ate some more!

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Joe Daddy got off work just in time to eat dinner with us, but he had to get home to load up his trailer to bring a bunch of stuff down to the hunting land he leases for his company picnic the next day. All 3 of the guys decided to make it a camping trip. They loaded up tents, air mattresses, guns, food, and beer and headed out.

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They all said they had a super fun time together and can’t wait to do it again next time!14258178_10207142445895079_1140452971196038519_o

After we got home from the party, we bathed the kids and made them a pallet so Maddie could have the girls’ room to herself. They started a movie and passed right out! It’s funny. We have enough beds in the girls’ room to sleep 8-10 people and yet all of them slept in the living room so one baby could sleep in the room, in her pack and play! LOL! Taylor ended up sleeping with me since her daddy wasn’t there and she wanted to read before bed.

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The next day, I went out to grab breakfast at Chick-fil-A so my sister (who doesn’t have a CFA where she lives) could try the new Egg White Grill (which is delicious if you haven’t tried it yet), and realized halfway there that it was Sunday (not the first time I’ve made that mistake). So I took a detour and got us some Bo-Berry and country ham and egg biscuits from Bojangles instead. I popped a Stouffer’s mac and cheese in the oven (yes, another one), along with a frozen apple pie, and got myself and the rest of our crew (minus Bene and Maddie, who stayed home) ready and loaded up to head to the land for Joe Daddy’s company picnic. This is the second year they’ve had one out at the land, only this year they had it near Labor Day and not on Memorial Day when it’s miserable outside. The weather was nice and there was plenty for the kids to do: fly a foam airplane their Pa brought, take rides in the fishing boat on the lake, fish, and take rides on the trailer behind the 4-wheeler. There was a whole pig cooking, and everyone brought side dishes to share (we brought mac and cheese and pie).

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Unfortunately, my poor sweet sister’s allergies went haywire and started flaring up her asthma. She was weak and had chills and couldn’t even eat. We tried to hold out til the pig was done cooking, but she started having difficulty breathing, so we left a little early. Pa offered to take Joe Daddy home so he could stay and enjoy some time outside of work with his coworkers.

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Taylor really wanted to introduce LuLu and BayBay to snoballs, and since I thought they might actually help her feel a little better, we stopped (I made sure she wasn’t going to stop breathing on me if we did). They really enjoyed them (DUH!)!

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When we got home, I dosed my sister up with Flonase, Mucinex D, prednisone, and albuterol and sent her to sleep in my bed so the baby could nap in the girls’ room. Monie came over with her kids for one last visit. Unfortunately, Lu slept the whole time they were here 🙁

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After my sister and her kids left, we ate a simple dinner of pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans (which I always get compliments for, LOL!). Lu actually got up and felt well enough to put some food in her belly! Then she laid back down when we put the kids to sleep.

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They really loved getting to spend the weekend together!

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They left the next morning at 6am. My sister wasn’t 100%, but she said she felt much better (YAY for my medicine cabinet!). All of us girls got up to give them one last squeeze (the boys were content having said their good-byes the night before). I’m especially gonna miss that sweet baby because I have a feeling my sister’s not gonna make that difficult journey again any time soon. They had an awful car ride down (Maddie gets car sick so she cries and throws up and has to take breaks), my poor sister gets sick every time she comes (that Kentucky air is just so much cleaner!), and Maddie’s just in a difficult stage of life right now (she eats, sleeps, poops, and plays on a schedule which isn’t easy to keep when you’re not at home). The next time I see her, she probably won’t be a baby anymore! I’ll miss my BayBay and my sister too, but at least we can FaceTime.

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I’m so grateful for all the precious memories my sister and nieces gave me this weekend! I truly treasure them! I just wish they lived closer!!!

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We spent the rest of our Labor Day not laboring. That was our only rule.

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I went back to bed after my sister left and slept in til 11am. When I woke up, I made everyone bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches for lunch. I had mine on an Ezekiel sprouted grain English muffin, which are sooo good, and sooo expensive, but still cheaper than McDonald’s! Then I spent a couple hours blogging before I cooked dinner.

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Since we had already eaten a bunch of junk over the weekend, I decided to make a healthy dinner: Bruschetta stuffed balsamic chicken with sweet potato and Brussels sprouts hash.

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Mine ended up like this, ready to mix! The chicken was great, the veggies weren’t spectacular. I don’t care for them roasted. I prefer them sautéed…in bacon 🙂 After dinner, I helped the girls pick out their clothes for the week (best idea ever!), pack their bags, bathe, and tucked them in bed. Then Joe Daddy and I enjoyed a little TV on the couch before bed, our usual. It was a very relaxing day at home with just the 7 of us, exactly what we needed after a long weekend with our extended family!

It really was the BEST Labor Day weekend EVER!!!

 

 

 

This Week…

…was better! Last week was rough. It was our first full week of school, plus my first week attempting to give up as much added refined sugar as possible, plus my first week back at the gym 5 days a week, so I was pretty exhausted, to say the least. This week was still tiring, but getting up was a little easier, and I felt like I could push myself even more working out, especially since the sugar cravings subsided a bit. So here’s what our week looked like:

Sunday

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Sunday we went to church. We had plans to go to a birthday party at Fort Yargo that afternoon, so we just wore our swimsuits under our church clothes. Yep. That’s how we roll. Thank goodness our church has a casual service that we can wear jeans and t-shirts to! LOL!

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I didn’t get a picture of us at church, but here’s a picture from the week before that I forgot to put in my last post 🙂

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Since we had about an hour and a half to kill between church and the birthday party but didn’t want to drive 30 minutes to the house and back, we went to our favorite local BBQ place for their ahhhmazing dry rub wings! Even better, who should I spy sitting at a table when we walked in?

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My best friend (she doesn’t know she’s my best friend, but she totally is) and Zumba/Chair Zen/Spin and Abs instructor (and personal trainer that one time) Erin! She was sitting at a table with her husband and son, waiting for their food, when our eyes met and we began running to each other in slow motion, jumped 10 feet in the air, and landed in each others arms (at least, that’s how it happened in my mind). We were so excited to see each other that we picked up her family (with our Jedi mind tricks) and moved them to a large table that could fit us all! We were so preoccupied chatting like crazy that we ignored our families and didn’t even think to take a picture to capture the awesome moment (thankfully, we have amazingly understanding families who didn’t even care that we ignored them…or that Erin took 15 minutes longer than anyone else to eat, LOL). Like I said, she’s one of my best friends. She makes my heart happy in a way that no one else can!

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After lunch, we headed to Fort Yargo for the girls’ friend Skylar’s 5th birthday party. We had hamburgers and hot dogs (and by we, I mean the kids since Joe Daddy and I were still stuffed from all the wings we had just eaten!), veggies, sodas, cookie cake, sang Happy Birthday, watched her open presents, and…

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…went swimming in the lake, of course!

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Yeah, except this guy. #FuddieBubbie “doesn’t like” to swim. (He doesn’t like to do most anything.) But it was Family Sunday Funday, so we made him tag along. #TeenagersAreHard. That’s all I have to say about that.

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The girls had fun at least!

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And it wasn’t ridiculously crowded like the last Sunday we went there!

Monday and Tuesday

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Monday I went to my Zumba and Spin/Abs classes and felt great! I wasn’t even sore Tuesday morning! Then I went to my Boot Camp class on Tuesday morning with an old instructor who had just come back from having a baby (and she still kicked my butt)! For the first time ever, I was able to make it through the workout without feeling like I was gonna die, so I decided to go to Zumba that night. I said I wasn’t going to do any night classes this year, but we’ve had so much time after school and I really missed my Tuesday night gym peeps, so I changed my mind.

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I was sooo happy to see my #GymWife for the first time in weeks! We ran to each other in slow motion and squeezed each other tight and then giggled throughout the entire class together. She is also my best friend (although I’m pretty sure she knows it). Kay has been such a motivator for me over the last 3 years in my weight loss journey. I am blessed to have such a beautiful inspiration to work out with every week! I love her so much! Did I mention we got to coach soccer last year together too? Fun times!

Wednesday

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Since Wednesday morning is the only morning I don’t go to the gym, I go grocery shopping. The kids are taking their lunch this year, since trying to keep up with what each of them wanted and didn’t want to eat at school last year was confusing, and to keep things “fair” I made them each their own “snack basket.” I bought chips, Cheez-Its, peanut butter and cheese filled snack crackers, granola bars, beef sticks, bread sticks and pretzels with cheese, fruit snacks, fruit cups, apple sauce squeezers, individual cups of peanut butter for dipping celery or apple slices, muffins, rice cakes, brownies, Oreos, Chips Ahoy, graham crackers, pudding cups, and trail mix (plus juice boxes, Gatorades, yogurt squeezers, lunch meat, and cheese in the fridge, and Uncrustables in the freezer). Every night (or morning), they can pack a juice box (or Gatorade for the older kids), a water bottle, a protein, a fruit or veggie, a chip or cracker, a dessert item, and one more item of their choosing for snack since the new school lets each kid be responsible for their own snack (which I love!). No, it’s not all health food, but I feel like it’s a nice mix of both.

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I did really well at sticking to my diet this week! I had my protein shakes for breakfast; leftovers or tuna fish salad for lunch; fruit, veggies, nuts, and boiled eggs for snacks; healthy home-cooked dinners almost every night; Fage fruit on the bottom yogurt for dessert; hot herbal tea first thing in the morning and again right before bed; and nothing else but water. I even bought some dark chocolate covered almonds so if I got a hankering for chocolate it would be somewhat healthy.

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Most Wednesdays, we hit up Zaxby’s for Kids’ Night before we head to church. Taylor and I split a grilled chicken Cobb Zalad (since it’s so freaking huge) minus the fried onions. I give Taylor most of the cheese and The Littles the bread. Then The 3 Littles split 2 kids meals (since they only ever eat half of one when I get them their own), so we only spend $10 to eat out!

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After Zaxby’s we went to church. Taylor and I went to yoga while The Littles went to choir then JourneyLand together and made butter!

Thursday

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Tristyn had her butter on waffles the next morning before school 🙂

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For some odd reason, I made Jules’ and Tristyn’s asthma check-up for 10:15am on a Thursday morning. That meant I had to miss my Zumba class (which turned out to be much needed anyway since I’m fairly certain I pulled my calf after my Tuesday class), I had to check Jules and Tristyn out of school at 9:30am, make them miss their lunch time, and then bring them back just a couple hours before school ended. Stupid! Usually, I know to make their appointments for around 1-2pm so I have time to get home for the other kids getting off the bus.

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Both of them passed their lung function tests with flying colors, but since Jules is still using his rescue inhaler every week, he is going back on maintenance meds (after being off of them for several months). Tristyn’s only had to use her rescue inhaler when she’s gotten sick, so she’s staying off of the every day asthma meds, but since she has been having issues with allergies, she’s going on 2 daily allergy meds, the same ones I started taking after my big allergy episode this summer (which have made a huge difference in the way I feel!). They also got meds to bring to school.

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I was sooo sore when I woke up Wednesday morning, even at that walking I did grocery shopping and an hour of yoga didn’t help. I was kinda grateful for a break on Thursday, but by Thursday night I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make it to my Friday classes. (I’m sure that Sprite I had when we ate at Del Taco before bringing the kids back to school didn’t help because I felt awful after I drank it.) A friend of mine swears by Epsom salt baths, so I went home and took my first bath in over 10 years! I filled the tub with Epsom salt (and some Bath and Body Works shower gel to make bubbles), grabbed a cup of hot herbal tea, my radio, and a candle (since it was storming outside) and soaked for a good half an hour. I was amazed at how much it helped! If you aren’t familiar with Epsom salt and all it’s awesomeness, Google it and be amazed!

Friday

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I was so excited that I not only made it to my Friday classes, but I wasn’t in pain anymore! I still had some tightness in my left calf, but I was still able to do all 312 of the weighted squats in my Pump-It-Up class! I even amazed myself by upping my weights for a bunch of the exercises to 12 lbs (which I’ve done on my own before, but never in an hour long class)! I was pretty sore yesterday, but it’s not too bad today! My word of the week has definitely been: MOTIVATED. I’ve been motivated to eat better and work out harder than I have in a while!

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I left my Chair Zen class a few minutes early (missing only the prayer time) to eat lunch with a bunch of the kids at their new school. I tried telling them that I was only coming to eat lunch with them this year on their birthdays, but Trini bribed me with a lunch visit to get on the bus without crying Friday morning, and she held her end of the bargain so I had to do the same. It’s not that I don’t want to see my kids while their at school, I just feel like school should be their time away from me. I also just want to do whatever makes them happy, so I guess if they really want to give up time with their friends at school for me, how can I refuse??? I swung by Chick-fil-A to get Ty a kids’ meal before dropping her off at my sister’s for a play date with Holly and grabbed myself a grilled Cobb salad. I wasn’t sure of the school rules about bringing in outside food (their old school forbid it), so I snuck it in. We ended up eating at the same table as a teacher and her family who had also brought in Chick-fil-A, only they didn’t hide it, LOL! First, I ate with Taylor and Caden from 11:30-12. I felt so bad when I saw Cameren leaving the lunch room 15 minutes after I got there! I’m so used to Taylor and Caden being together and Tristyn and Chase being together that I often leave him out of the equation! I promised him that next time I come, I’d eat lunch with him too. I had to wait 15 minutes between the time Taylor and Caden left and Tristyn’s and Chase’s lunch time, but I ran into some old cheer friends, which made the time pass quickly. 15 minutes later, Trini showed up, so the 4 of us got to eat together for 15 minutes before Tristyn and Chase had to leave. Then Trini and I got to have 15 minutes all to ourselves!

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I was so proud of her for not crying when lunch was over…although I did threaten that if she did, I wouldn’t eat lunch with her again.

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When Tristyn came home from school, she told me she passed her first spelling test! I can’t tell you what a relief that was since she struggled all week with them while we studied at home. (Trini also came home with her sight words marked off, which she struggled with at home all week as well.) I absolutely hate homework because I just feel like my kids are so over school work by then that they don’t get anything out of it (at least, until their older). I really don’t think they should have homework until 4th grade. That seemed to be the grade my older 2 could finally do it on their own without any meltdowns (although I never really had any problems with Jules and homework).

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On the way to pick Taylor up from gymnastics, I picked up Ty from my sister’s house…and 3 of her kids so they could hang out with us while my sister ran some errands.

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Look who was driving behind me on the way! #MayfieldDairyCow #OnTheMoove

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Some of the kids played inside, while the others jumped in the pool.

Saturday

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The kids let me sleep til almost 11am Saturday morning! I got up, ate some breakfast, and hopped on the computer to blog for a bit. Then the neighbors called asking if they could come swimming.

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The little boy was having a hard time getting along with the girls, so he went home, but the girls swam and played together for about an hour before abandoning the pool for the trampoline.

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Which was fine by me! Adult swim! 🙂

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Until the black clouds rolled in and the rain started to pour. Boo! That was the fourth time this week the rain ruined my pool time!

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Joe Daddy came home early so we could visit his dad in the hospital. He had a hemorrhagic stroke the night before and had been transported via ambulance to Grady’s ICU. The bleeding in his brain had stopped, so he was supposed to get a regular room. We were hoping he’d be moved in the time it took us to eat dinner at KFC and drive the hour out there.

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Unfortunately, they just didn’t have a room for him to transfer to. The hospital wouldn’t let anyone under 12 go back to visit in the ICU, so we lied and said Taylor was 12 since she was the most worried about him. He was just sitting next to his bed watching TV when we walked in. We totally surprised him since he told Joe not to worry about coming out! He said his face was still a little numb but that he was feeling fine. They did discover that his blood sugar is pretty high, along with his blood pressure, so once he leaves the hospital he’ll not only have to up his blood pressure meds, but change his diet and exercise habits as well. I still think he looks pretty good for a guy pushing 70!

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The girls were a little bummed that they couldn’t see their Pa, but they behaved so well in the waiting room. They just read their books and played games on their Kindles for over an hour while Joe Daddy and I took turns visiting.

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Jules and Taylor stayed with Pa the whole time, but they spent most of their time watching TV and checking out the view from his little side guest room.

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None of us have ever been to Grady, so we looked like tourists checking out all the cool architecture and displays, LOL!
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It was really cool to see it both during the day and at night! I’m glad we got to enjoy our little trip since Pa is doing well. He finally got a regular room today! He might even get to go home today! He said if he does, he’ll stop by so he can see The Littles.

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This week has been much better than last week, at least as far as how tired we all are. Trini is probably struggling the most, but she’s getting better every day.

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I talked to her teacher when I went to eat lunch with her, telling her how I was only there b/c of the fits she’s been pitching at the bus stop, and she said she’s been perfectly fine at school. That’s the most important thing, but honestly, it doesn’t make the fits any more bearable. Seeing her sweet self-portrait this week definitely helped lift my spirits. I just have to remember that a spirited little girl will make for one heck of a strong independent woman!

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Bleu is almost done with her 14 days of antibiotics and steroids and is looking and acting almost perfectly normal again.

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I’m not an “pet person,” but I really love her. She’s such a good dog.

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She’s completely spoiled, just like the rest of my girls. Just look at her poking her nose outside while keeping her body in the cool A/C. Spoiled.

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I’m feeling better and better the better I eat. I’m finding that eating the crap I love just isn’t worth how awful I feel afterwards. I seriously gained a pound per day this week, despite mostly sticking to my diet, which I know is just my body working through all the inflammation I’ve caused it working out and eating crap all summer, plus all the water my body is retaining from not having enough of it for a while (and to repair my muscles), but I still don’t enjoy seeing the scale go up that much in a week. The good news is: it was 4 lbs less when I hopped on this morning, and I know it will just continue to drop as I continue to be consistent. I don’t care about what the scale says as much as how I feel and look, but I do like keeping track of it. I feel like it motivates me. My main goal for eating healthy foods and working out is to be healthy and build muscle tone. If I gained weight but looked ripped, I’d be perfectly content.

Well, that’s it for this week. The pool is calling my name!

Getting Back into a Routine!

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Getting back into a routine has been exhausting, but I love it! I’m always super organized at the beginning of the school year. Unfortunately, I just don’t stay super organized. Slowly, exhaustion will take over and chaos will ensue…and then summer’ll come and I’ll turn into a zombie again. At least that’s what has happened every year for the past 9 years since my kids started going to school. I was really hoping to stick to a routine this summer, but it just didn’t happen. Maybe next summer? Anyway, because I’m in full-blown super mom mode, I made myself a cleaning schedule. So far, it’s working out really well! You’d think 9 hours without the kids, 5 days a week, would be plenty of time to get all this stuff done, but because we had a couple of appointments this week, I never got around to shampooing the rugs or mopping the floors. It’s not the end of the world, I just haven’t mopped the kitchen floors since before summer. Yeaaaaah.

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I also made the kids an “After School Schedule” (on the backside of the board). Because we only have church on Wednesday nights and gymnastics after school on Friday, as opposed to something every night of the week like last year, it feels like we have so much time after school! The kids get home around 4pm, which means we are usually done eating dinner before 4:30pm! People are usually amazed that we eat so early, but all I’ve done is switch the time they would be eating a snack with dinner. This way, they fill up on protein and fibrous carbs instead of junk. I still let them have the junk of course, just after they’ve eaten their dinner. After dinner, they have two hours to play or relax and watch TV before having to do their homework! This makes doing homework much less like pulling teeth for me since they are completely worn out when they get home. Jules and Taylor have been doing their own homework for years now, but I still have to help Tristyn and Trini memorize sight words and read for 10-20 minutes each night. Tristyn also has math homework now that she’s in 1st grade. After homework, we pack their backpacks, lunches and snacks, pick out their clothes for the next day, pick up whatever mess they’ve made playing, take baths (which we have a schedule for as well), brush teeth, say our prayers, and they get to watch TV til they fall asleep in their rooms while I get to watch a little TV on the couch with Joe Daddy.

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I was kinda worried about being able to make it to all 7 of my classes this week at the gym, but I’m happy to report, I did it! I went to Zumba and Spin and Abs on Monday, Boot Camp on Tuesday, Yoga on Wednesday, Zumba on Thursday, and Pump-It-Up and Chair Zen on Friday! I’m definitely feeling strong, fearless, and proud about that!

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Ty came to the gym with me every day, except for Thursday when she stayed home with her daddy. They took away child care for my Tuesday class, but she sat on the bleachers and watched me the whole time without any complaints!

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I’m so thankful she loves going to the gym as much as I do! We love spending time together, but it’s nice to have a little time apart each day!

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I seriously thought about putting her in some sort of preschool this year, but she enjoys chilling at home and I know this is the last year she’ll get to (plus she’s like my best friend! I’m not ready for her to be gone all day yet!). Going to child care at the gym 6 hours a week (plus the 1-2 play dates we usually have each week) is plenty time out of the house for her. She’s an introvert like her mama, I can already tell.

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I won’t lie, I’ve gotten plenty sore this week, but it hasn’t been nearly as bad as I anticipated. I wasn’t sore at all after Monday! I was pretty sore after Tuesday though, so I didn’t run before Yoga like I usually do. Thursday was probably my sorest day, which is when I wore my new “My Everything is SORE” shirt. I hated having to buy new clothes to go back to the gym, but after all the crap I ate this summer, I’ve been bloated like crazy and since all of my clothes are very form fitting, I had to get a few shirts that don’t hug my bulging gut. I don’t normally like to wear loose fitting clothes because I feel like they make me look larger than I am, but I’m happy with the shirts I found. They don’t hug my waist but they fit snuggly everywhere else so I don’t look huge (although I’m pretty sure a couple people think I’m pregnant…I’m not, just to be clear).

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Isn’t it the coolest gym shirt?! I love it! And I found it on clearance at TJMaxx, so it didn’t cost much at all!

Meal Plan 2016

Being back at the gym every day means I have to eat better. When I don’t drink enough water or eat enough protein or take my vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, I get much sorer and can’t workout nearly as hard, long, or as often. To help myself stay on track, I prepared a simple meal plan.

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I did an amazing job drinking at least 8 cups of water every day, making my protein smoothies each morning before I left for the gym, and taking all nine of my pills. I even got Joe Daddy drinking protein smoothies for breakfast! I can’t honestly say that I stuck to my meal plan, but I can say that I ate much better this week than I did over the summer!

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Speaking of Joe Daddy, guess who I got to eat lunch with this week?! Yep! We had our first dentist appointment in 6-7 years last Monday, so we met up for lunch at Chick-fil-A. We both ordered salads, but I forgot to specify grilled nuggets in mine so I ended up eating fried chicken. The way I look at it is, I ordered a salad. That’s still an improvement over the sandwich and fries I’ve been eating all summer. Baby steps.

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So yeah, Joe Daddy and I had our first cleaning in 6-7 years. Years, not months. That’s not a typo! About 9 years ago, I went to the dentist for the first time since high school, which was about 7 years before that. Once I had my son, I didn’t have any dental insurance or enough money to pay out of pocket, so I just didn’t go. Then I started working at Aldi and had really good insurance, but between going to college full time and working full time on top of having a kid at home, I just didn’t have any time to go. After I had Taylor (and dropped out of UGA), I finally made my way back only for the dentist to tell me I had a couple cavities and the beginning stages of periodontal disease, which scared me! I let them fill my cavities and do something called “scaling and root planing” where they clean and apply antibiotics between the gums down to the roots. They also convinced me to buy a $150 tooth brush and a special $20 mouth rinse. 3 months later I returned, only for them to tell me that I had more cavities and my gums weren’t any better. So they did the scaling and root planing and filled my cavities again. This went on for 2 years before I could not take the pain of the treatments and fillings anymore (and got a clue that I was being lied to) and sought a 2nd opinion. Not only did the next dentist tell me that I did not have any sign of periodontal disease (not even gingivitis), but I did not have any cavities (the other dentist told me I had 3 the last time I saw them!). He also said that I had a lot of “superficial fillings,” meaning they barely drilled into my teeth and that all those treatments on my gums was probably doing more harm than good. I was livid! I wrote Coast Dental a nice longer letter about how upset I was at them for their actions over the last 2 years (to which I never heard a reply, go figure!). My mouth never bled or hurt before I started seeing them, but every time I saw them, I left in worst shape than before. That traumatic experience coupled with the loss of dental insurance when I left Aldi, is why I hadn’t been back to the dentist over the last 6-7 years. Knowing I need to go to the dentist (and my hubby’s constant reminder that he needs to go as well), pushed me to look for a new dentist this summer. One of my friends posted about her awesome experience at one of our local dentist offices, and since she mentioned that they were very gentle with her because she has a sensitivity, I decided to give Creekside Dentistry a try. I am so glad I did! Not only were they extremely gentle with me, they didn’t take forever and they didn’t try to rip me off! I was completely honest about how long it had been since I saw a dentist (and why) so my hygienist took extra care to make sure I was comfortable throughout the cleaning process. Of course, I wasn’t comfortable, but I wasn’t in pain either. I was in shock when the dentist told me that my gums and teeth were in great shape…like jaw dropping shock! I didn’t have a single cavity??? But it’s been 6-7 YEARS! My gums aren’t infected??? I don’t need any kind of additional work??? I seriously happy danced my way out of there…til I got the bill. $600 for the pair of us! Yikes! I don’t miss working, but I sure do miss that dental insurance! It was only so high because of all the x-rays they took. Next time, it’ll be less then $200 for the both of us. I might look into dental insurance, but if it costs more than $600 per year, I’ll probably skip it and just pay out of pocket.

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Yay for healthy (and now clean) teeth and gums!!!

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Joe Daddy and I weren’t the only ones who had to go to the dentist this week. Jules and Taylor had to go back to get their extractions done.

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Jules went first. He had 2 baby teeth removed and a crown put on one of his 12 year molars because the cavity was in a place that couldn’t be filled.

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The picture on the right is before and the ones on the left are after. The dentist said that his teeth might straighten out on their own more now that they have room, but I wasn’t planning on getting him braces anyway. His teeth aren’t that crooked and he doesn’t want braces. If he changes his mind later in life, he can certainly choose to pay for them himself! Haha! I wore braces 3rd through 8th grade and while it did straighten out my teeth, I didn’t wear my retainer like I was supposed to so they aren’t perfectly straight anymore. I won’t get braces for any of my kids unless 1) they are medically necessary, like they can’t chew or talk right; 2) they have all of their permanent teeth (except for wisdom teeth); 3) they want them and agree to take care of their teeth properly while they wear them (and I believe they are capable of doing such).

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Because Taylor doesn’t like to be left alone with strangers, she asked me to stay in the room with her. She had to have 2 baby teeth removed as well, but not because they refused to fall out (although most kids do lose them before age 10), but because she had ground them down to the nerves and was in constant pain (at least when she would wake up and anytime she’d eat). Because the teeth that are supposed to fall out before those hadn’t fallen out, she had to be fitted for a spacer as well, which was probably more traumatic than getting her teeth pulled. She had a full-on panic attack while they were working on her, so they had to stop and let her catch her breath, but she handled it so well! I’ve had panic attacks for as long as I can remember, but I’ve always been able to handle them so they don’t affect me from being able to function, so I was so proud to see her calm herself down and tell them she was ready to continue after only a few minutes.

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I don’t think she realized how much she was going to have to suffer to get rid of those 2 teeth, but I think once the pain subsides, she’s going to feel much better.

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Ty played with Tay while we waited for Bubbie.

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Then she went back with me when I sat with Taylor and passed out!

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One of my favorite parts of this week was my Mother-Son Date with Jules! We haven’t had one of these since he was in elementary school! The best part was HE ASKED ME to take him to see Suicide Squad, just the two of us! Of course, I couldn’t say no! We went on Tuesday since movies are only $5, a large popcorn is $4, and medium drinks are $3. We managed to see a movie, have more popcorn than we could eat, our own drinks, and candy that we snuck in from the store for less than $25! It was totally worth the sugar hangover I had the next day. The movie was good and I learned that my son knows just about everything there is to know about comic books, old and new! I mean, we call him “The Walking Encyclopia,” but I had no idea he knew so much about comic books simply because he doesn’t own any, LOL! Thanks be to Google! 😉

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Joe Daddy got to have a little Father-Daughter Date with Ty while I went to Zumba on Thursday since it was his day off.

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I came home to them riding on the 4-wheeler around the yard together.

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And Bleu chasing them, of course.

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Other than Joe Daddy, Ty’s Bleu’s favorite person.

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Could they be any cuter?

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On Wednesday, I met my sister at Chick-fil-A for breakfast before we went grocery shopping so Ty and Holly could play together for a bit. These 2 are constantly asking to get together and I don’t make nearly enough time to see my sister.

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On Friday, we had Holly over at our house for a play date. It was only the 3rd time I’ve had my niece on my own and I gotta say, she’s much more manageable! LOL! I seriously couldn’t watch her for the first 2 years of her life because she was such a handful! I mean, I could have, I just avoided it like the plague and my sister had my mom so she didn’t ever need me to keep her. She actually listened to me and didn’t try any Evel Knievel stunts! I think my sister and I are going to take turns hosting play dates on Fridays so they can enjoy playing with each other and we can each get a little break.

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All of The Littles had a play date at the neighbor’s on Thursday after school. There were a total of 12 kids from around the neighborhood playing!

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They played with bikes and bubbles…

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…babies and Barbies (and had cheese balls and Hugs before dinner because it took us longer than anticipated to get home from the dentist).

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They had fun, and I got to chat with my bestie, which is always nice.

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The kids had a good week at school. We managed to get up and get to the bus stop on time every day! Success! LOL!

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Our only mishap was on Friday. Trini missed the bus from school so I had to go pick her up. I think it was because her teacher wasn’t paying attention when the buses were being called, but she agreed to let Taylor get her from class and bring her to the bus in the afternoons so it doesn’t happen again. It wasn’t that big of a deal, but I’d rather not have to drive up to the school to get her. That’s the whole point of riding the bus! LOL!

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We’ve spent our Saturday hanging out in the pool with friends. Taylor invited 3 of her friends over.

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Tristyn invited one friend over. Well, in actuality, Taylor invited one friend over yesterday, then Tristyn’s friend’s mom texted me this morning and asked if her daughter could come over since the rest of her kids are doing stuff with their friends, then when Taylor found out Tristyn’s friend was coming over, she asked if her sister and her other friend could come over too.

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Of course, they’ve all asked if they can spend the night, and I hate that I have to say no. I’m not saying we’ll never let people spend the night here again, I just don’t want them to get used to doing it all the time. The rule is they can have a slumber party on their birthdays and maybe an occasional sleepover during a school break, but not every weekend like I used to get talked into. I have agreed to having these play dates. That will just have to be enough.

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I mean, isn’t playing with your friends while you’re awake more fun than getting to sleep next to them?

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If it’s not, they’ll just have to sleep next to each other during their play dates 😉

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This week’s gone fairly well, but I’m exhausted. I’ve been craving sugar like a beast, and have not been able to completely avoid it, which means I’m still having sugar crashes. I know it’ll get better, but right now it’s hard. I have to wonder if it’s harder because I gave up alcohol too. 10 days and counting!

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I can’t say the same thing for sugar though! LOL! Yeah, we ended up back at Angie’s after gymnastics on Friday. I totally passed by, determined not to give into temptation, but Taylor really wanted a snoball since her mouth was still hurting, so I turned around. We ended up running into some friends while we were there who told Angie that I was the one who got them addicted. Oddly enough, they weren’t the first, which Angie thanked me for! LOL! Too bad she didn’t thank me with a complimentary snoball 😉 I got my 2 faves mixed together: piña colada and wedding cake. Taylor got banana mixed with wedding cake. I tried the banana with her after my friend said it was good and I was surprised how good it was since I don’t typically like banana flavored foods.

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There have been several days when I just wanted to curl up and take a nap, but I know that napping will just make me more tired. I have just resigned to going to bed as early as possible.

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Hopefully, next week will be a little less exhausting, but just as much fun!

The Last Stretch of Summer Break!

I. Can’t. Believe. It. There is only ONE full day left before school starts! Whaaaaaatttt?! That went by surprisingly fast, but like I said in my last post, I’m so ready for school to start so we can get back into a healthy schedule. My body’s getting too old to be eating, drinking, and sleeping so much! [Insert sad sarcastic laugh here.]

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I think the last 3 weeks went by the fastest! We only had 3 things left to check off our bucket list, and I’m happy to announce…we did them all (and then some)!

Here’s some of the stuff we’ve been busy doing:

Eating Free Chick-fil-A!

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Every year, for at least the past 5 years, we’ve taken full advantage of CFA’s generosity. Last year, I finally got around to making our family “forever cow costumes” so we wouldn’t have to spray paint t-shirts or tape black paper spots to our clothes. I found aprons on clearance at Hobby Lobby, bought some black chenille stems and felt, and utilized some fabric paint and other materials we had on hand at the house to make 7 cow costumes for less than $40! We ate more than that in free food on Cow Appreciation Day last year! Of course, this year CFA decided not to give out free meals to those of us who went all out, so we didn’t need our full costumes. While it was disappointing, I am still grateful for what we did get for free (2 salads, 2 sandwiches, and 10 kids meals)! Don’t judge me, I spend $30 every time we eat there, which is at least once a month!

Going to the Movies!

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While I thought we were going to take advantage of going to see a bunch of the cheap older movies this summer, we ended up just going to see a couple of the newer movies, which worked out the same financially (if not better since we have to have popcorn and drinks when we go to the movies). The Littles really wanted to see Finding Dory, while Taylor really wanted to see The Secret Life of Pets. Cow Appreciation Day was on a Tuesday, which just so happened to be the day the theater discounts their showings to $5, so we went in between lunch and dinner. Everyone really enjoyed both of the movies we went to see!

Riding Bikes!

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One of the last 3 things on our Summer Bucket List the last time I posted was to go on a family bike ride together. Our neighborhood is way too hilly for any of us to ride, so we loaded up Joe Daddy’s truck with 6 bikes and drove to a local park that has a great trail to ride on. The Littles just got their very first real bicycles at the beginning of summer, so they hadn’t had much practice, so Daddy and I took turns riding the bike with the big kids and walking along side The Littles. By the end of our hour there, The Littles were riding pretty good on their own and all of our legs were sore. Everyone raved about how much fun we had! I see many more family bike rides in our future!

Swimming, Swimming, and More Swimming!

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I can’t say enough how happy I am we decided against not putting up a pool this year. Just like every summer for the last 8 years, swimming at home was the thing we did most!

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Taylor enjoyed going to a pool party at her bestie’s house with two of her other friends!

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We went to a local park’s pool thinking Tristyn’s friend was meeting us there, but there was a massive miscommunication and we ended up just swimming as a family. It was still a great time together, even if it wasn’t something we would have planned on our own.

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We hadn’t been to that park since Trini was a baby, so we enjoyed taking a stroll through the park as well. We saw lots of geese, baby ducklings, some turtles, and a water moccasin (which sent us packing)!

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Of course, we stopped to play on the playground too 🙂

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We also enjoyed going to Tristyn’s friend’s pool party this past weekend!

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Trini jumped off a diving board and swam across the deep end of a pool (without floaties) for the very first time!

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Tristyn did too!

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Tristyn was able to swim across the entire pool! I couldn’t be prouder of how well my 5 and 6 year old girls are swimming (especially since they’ve never taken a swim lesson)!

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Ty conquered her fear of going under the water by jumping into Taylor’s arms and then holding her hand as they jumped together! I love how close these two are despite their seven year age gap!

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Of course, my biggest fish was totally in her element.

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The best part of the party was getting to hang out with my sister, niece, and two of my three nephews (Caden stayed home like Jules). We hadn’t seen them in a whole week since they went to Charleston for vacation! Ty and Holly are shaping up to be the best of friends, which is super awesome now that her bestie is going to pre-k this year. Holly will go to school 3-4 days a week, but at least one day a week they’ll get to hang out together while the other kids are at school, just like they did last year.

Skating!

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Skating is another one of the last 3 things we had left on our Summer Bucket List last time I blogged. We ended up going twice!

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The first time we had to leave Tristyn at home because she was sick 🙁 Did I mention that a nasty stomach bug just made it’s way through most of my family last week?

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Because Tristyn really wanted to go too, we went again a couple days later…

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…which really worked out well since Tristyn’s bestie decided to go that day too!

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 Trini absolutely blew me away with her skating skills! Not only was she able to skate on the outer rink with her older sisters, but she won 1st Girl in the race for 4-6 year olds! Two boys passed her, but she beat Tristyn and Ari! My kids really wanted me to get out there with them, but I think I might buy a pair of skates and practice at home before I get out on the rink again. It’s been a good 20 years or so!

Visiting a New Dentist!

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After hearing several of my friends rant and rave about a new dentist in our town, I decided to give them a try. Not only did they schedule all 5 of my kids to be seen at the same time (a first for us!), they allowed me to sit with them throughout the process, gave the kids all kinds of goodies, only took an hour and a half from start to finish (including x-rays, cleanings, and talking to the dentist about several concerns), and had a much better dentist than the one we’d been seeing over the past 3 years! Our old dentist said that she could not pull the two teeth that Taylor has ground down to the nerves (which causes her extreme pain) and that Jules had lost all of his baby teeth, even though he adamantly claimed that he had two that refused to come out. Well, the new dentist said she would not only pull the two teeth that are bothering Taylor, but put spacers in her mouth until her permanent ones grow in, and pull Jules’ last two baby teeth, which she agreed were indeed baby teeth! You can probably imagine how happy we all were to have given this new dentist a try!

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Nothing quite beat being asked if Taylor and I are sisters though! I got asked if all of the girls were my sisters about a week later! Thank you kind people! I’ll take it!

Dog Sitting My Fur Sister Gracie

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A few months ago my mom got herself a dog, a beagle/dachshund mix, and named her Gracie.

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A couple weeks ago, my mom went with her bestie to Kentucky for 3 days to see some play and visit with my sister and nieces [JEALOUS!!!]), so we kept Gracie at our house.

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 Bleu loves other animals, so her and Gracie got along fine, and the kids absolutely adore Gracie Girl and did most of the work involved in caring for her…buuuuuuut…that little dog peed everywhere!!! I thought my mom might not have a dog when she returned, if ya know what I mean. We took her out religiously, she just didn’t want to pee outside…and she peed anytime Joe or I touched her, even if it was just to pet her! For the most part, she would poop outside, but one day she decided to take a dump seven times in my dining room, earning her the nickname “Shit Storm.” In her defense, I think her stomach was upset by some leftover shrimp she got a hold of. By the grace of God we made it through, and then we kept her even longer when my mom went to the beach with my other sister. The peeing situation was enough to drive me bat-shit crazy, but even after 6 days of dealing with it, Gracie and I survived and my mom got to take her bag of piss home with her. Believe it or not, we get to do it all over again in a few weeks. Joy.

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She’s lucky she’s so dang cute!

Saving a Turtle!

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Taylor found a turtle while Joe Daddy was mowing the yard one day. She was devastated at the thought that it might be dead when she saw blood on it’s banged up shell.

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But after she left it alone for a while, it came out of it’s shell!

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We set it free out in the yard after Joe Daddy got done mowing and he went on with his life.

Dancing!

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Words cannot express how much I miss my Zumba classes, but I have thoroughly enjoyed all of our little family dance parties at home this summer!

Bowling!

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Bowling is another one of the last 3 things we had left on our Summer Bucket List last time I blogged. A couple weeks ago, Taylor suffered a traumatic experience at a friend’s house which I can’t get into yet since it’s under investigation, but I will say that our family will not be participating in sleepovers anymore. After the incident, Taylor and I spent a good portion of the day crying, so in an effort to take our minds of the terribleness that took place, we went bowling. Somehow, bowling wasn’t quite as fun that day, so we only played one game, even though we had two free. I doubt we’ll use our passes again this summer, which really stinks considering I paid $30 for a pass for Joe and I and I would have only paid $10 had I not bought it. Oh, well. You live and learn!

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Guess who beat us all?!

Camping!

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Originally, we wanted to camping at Stone Mountain this summer, but because we tried to go with my sister, who could never find the time to go, we had to scratch it from our Summer Bucket List. This past week, Joe Daddy took a vacation from work (to do some work at home) and offered set up a camp site in the back yard. I figured worst case scenario, we could walk back to the house if it got too hot. Our “Way-Back-Yard,” as we call it, still has a bunch of trees, and a fire pit, so it really felt like we were camping away from home! We left the cover off the top of the tent so it even felt like we were outdoors when we were in the tent. For the most part, it was a lot of fun!

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We went swimming in the pool for most of the day. Then we got out and set up our tent and got the fire going to roast hot dogs for dinner. After dinner, we went back to the pool for some night swimming before heading back down to the camp fire to make s’mores.

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Joe Daddy, Jules, and I stayed up talking into the night while the girls passed out in the tent. I enjoyed some Spiked Punch we found at Kroger for $6/12 pack! It was delicious! We finally called it a night around 11pm.

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Around 3am, everyone woke up to Joe Daddy trying to kill a gigantic moth that had found its way into our tent. I was so hot, my whole body hurt, and I could not fall back asleep due to the extremely loud bug noises all around us. Joe Daddy was struggling too, so we woke up the kids and made the trek through the yard back to the house where we enjoyed sleeping the rest of the morning in our comfy beds with the air conditioning.

Eating Lots of Sweet Treats!

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Lots is an understatement! We have made several trips to the snoball stand, RaceTrac and QT for icees, Sonic for slushes, not to mention all of the sodas, ice cream, cookies, and other treats we’ve had at home! All of my clothes are fitting tighter, which tells me I have my work cut out for me when I get back into my healthy routine! I really can’t believe that as good as I did all year, I wasn’t able to carry it over to the summer. I really hope I can do better next summer!

Eating Out!

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Our family doesn’t eat out much. We just can’t afford it with our large family. This summer, we decided to treat ourselves a couple of times. We hadn’t been to the Mexican restaurant in town since they changed owners, so we went last week while Joe Daddy was on vacation. They had a special where you get a combo for $5 if you buy a drink (which made it $7.35, about $1 cheaper than the regular priced combo). Because the combos came with 3 items each, and we all mainly like to gorge on tortilla chips, cheese dip, and salsa, we just got 4 combos to split between the 7 of us, a cheese dip, and made The Littles drink water. We ended up only paying $50, which was nice considering the last time we ate Mexican it cost us twice that much! We still ended up leaving with a to-go box!

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We also stopped to eat while we were out school shopping. Joe Daddy and the kids hadn’t tried Pollo Tropical yet (I went one day after one of my doctor’s appointments), so we went there and got the family meal which came with a whole chicken, sweet plantains (my favorite!), and 4 rolls. Then we added 8 chicken wings, a large side of yellow rice with veggies and black beans, and a large side of mashed potatoes with gravy. Because we got water to drink and didn’t have to leave a tip, we spent less than $29 and had more food than we could eat! Everyone was starving so I didn’t have time to take a picture of the feast. The kids, who begged for us to take them to McDonald’s or Wendy’s instead, loved the food too! It cost less than McDonald’s or Wendy’s and not only tasted better, but was much healthier! I’d say we have a new favorite spot to eat out!

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Joe Daddy and I went on a day-date to his friend’s restaurant out in Athens called Saucehouse BBQ. Not only was his friend super nice and let us try all the meats for free, but the food was fabulous! It was seriously the best beef brisket I’ve ever had!

School Shopping!

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This year I went through all of the kids’ clothes before I went shopping. I’d like to say it helped, and perhaps it did, but we still spent a small fortune buying clothes and shoes for our minions. The kids were really good about going through their old back packs and salvaging whatever they could to use again this year, and Joe’s dad gave us a bunch of stuff he had in his basement so we didn’t have to buy any loose leaf paper, notebooks, composition books, or colored pencils (and we have enough construction paper to keep my girls happy for life!). Jules is even using the same back pack and lunch box this year! Tristyn’s and Trini’s back packs and lunch boxes were in bad shape and because I found them such a good deal on new ones, I went ahead and got Taylor new ones too, even though she probably could have gotten away with using her old ones.

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Tristyn’s and Trini’s sneakers are still in good shape, so I caved in and got them the $13 high heels they’ve been begging for (I got Ty some as well)…

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…and then I couldn’t resist getting them some pink Chucks when I found them at Ross in the mall for $20! We actually all got a pair of Converse from the mall last weekend! I found Ty a pair to match my turquoise ones (which I got off ebay for $30 a few months ago) for $20 at Ross, Joe and Taylor white ones for less than $38 each at Off Broadway Shoes ($50 each, BOGO half off), Jules a pair of black ones for $25 at Ross, and I got myself a pair of black and white ones since I wear kids’ size shoes, which are much cheaper: less than $27 each ($35 each, BOGO half off).

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We all wore them out school shopping this past weekend and got all kinds of compliments! Haha!

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I also couldn’t resist getting a pair of black Nike running shoes when I saw the ones Jules and Taylor picked out (especially since they were on sale and tax free)! I have a black pair of sneakers, but they’re not running shoes and my running shoes are blue so they don’t go with much (I got them at Peachtree Running Co. a couple years ago and they were the ones that felt the best, not the ones I liked the best). Can you believe both of my big kids’ feet are bigger than mine?! Taylor’s catching up to Jules fast!

I’m glad I got most of our school shopping done before tax-free weekend because the stores were much more bare than the week or two before! I did wait on the kids’ classroom supplies, which I won’t do again. It’s just not worth the few bucks I saved to not be able to breathe while you shop. And for the 2nd year in a row, I had a hard time finding #2 pencils and wasn’t able to find any pencil top erasers.

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We also divided up all of the school supplies into totes, which we’ll bring to Open House tonight since all of the kids will be riding the bus to and from school this year! I’m not only looking forward to saving gas, but having a whole hour between getting everyone off to school and having to leave for the gym!

I don’t think anything can prepare us for how hard it is going to be to start waking up early again…or how sore I’m going to be over the next month…or two, but I’m ready to get back into the swing of things!

Enjoying a Break From Social Media

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I am not a fan of the media in general, but until recently, I’ve been an avid user of Facebook and Instagram. I’ve always enjoyed being able to share pictures, videos, and snippets of my life with my close family and friends. Over the years, social media has turned into something more negative than positive, and I’m just over it. There wasn’t any one particular event that ignited my departure, rather a culmination of many. I just don’t even want to scroll through my News Feed anymore. I didn’t completely deactivate my accounts, because I still enjoy being able to utilize Instagram’s filters and Facebook’s free space for all the pictures I take. Regardless of who sees them, I still enjoy taking pictures, and I still enjoy sharing my life with others, I just don’t want to have to scroll through the crap for the few posts I enjoy seeing. So if you want to keep up with our brood, I’ll be sharing blog posts from time to time, and will hopefully be vlogging more regularly now that we have a camera specifically for it (which we thought was going to happen this summer, but fell through when the camera we bought didn’t work out, which I’ll explain more about in another post). I still have the Facebook app on my phone so I can upload pictures, so if you need to contact me through there, I will still get it, although I won’t make any promises as to when. I had a few friends text, call, and message me worried that something bad had happened so I figured I should let everyone know: I’m alive! Haha! The craziest thing about this break from social media is: I don’t miss it! It’s only been 10 days since I last posted anything or scrolled my News Feed and I just feel so much better. I’m not saying people who don’t use social media are better than those who do, I’m just saying, it’s had a really negative effect on me lately. I can’t say for sure that I’ll never use it again, but for now, I’m really enjoying life without it.

Wow! Who knew 3 weeks could pack so much fun?! I wish there was a way to make these posts shorter, but it took a ridiculous amount of energy just to make myself blog every few weeks this summer! I already have five other posts in mind to cover all the stuff I wanted to put in here but didn’t to keep it from being too long! Haha!

I hope you all had a fabulous summer too!

 

Let the Countdown Begin!

So a few days ago, for the first time in the history of summer, I started a “Back to School Countdown.”

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Summer is my absolute most favorite time of the year. It’s a time of pure laziness, where I can stay up and sleep in as late as my heart desires, where I don’t have to be anywhere at a certain time, and where I don’t follow a strict diet or exercise routine.

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By the end of the school year, I’m exhausted. Exhausted from the strict schedule the school year brings. 6am wake-up calls, daily homework and running everyone around to sports in the afternoons, and the rush to get everyone bathed, brushed, and in bed at a decent time at night.

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While this summer has been very fun and refreshing, and I have enjoyed getting to spend so much time with my children, I’m ready for the school year to begin.

Normally, I love getting to be so lazy, but this summer is different. I miss going to the gym 5 times a week. I miss consistently eating healthy. I miss having a routine.

You’d think there’d be a simple answer to my problem: Just stick to your routine!

I tried. It never happened.

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For some reason, my body refuses to get up early if it knows it doesn’t have to.

I’m not kidding when I say that I set my alarm to go to the gym every single day this summer and I only made it once.

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I only made it to a few night classes too though, the ones where I had to because I volunteer to get my membership free and once b/c my workout wife begged me to show up.

I need school to start so I can get back into a good routine, the routine I was able to keep up the entire duration of last school year!

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So let the countdown begin! There are only 22 days left until school starts! Time to knock out that Summer Bucket List!

We have already completed almost our entire Summer Bucket List!

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The only things we haven’t done are the things I thought we’d do the most! We haven’t gone bike riding, bowling, or skating once yet this summer! I bought bikes for all 4 girls (with Trini’s birthday money, with her permission) thinking we’d go on a family bike ride every Sunday! I bought The Littles their own skates thinking we’d use their free passes at least once a week! I even paid $30 so Joe Daddy, my mom, my sister, and I could bowl for free with the kids every Tuesday! Thankfully, the girls have used their bikes and skates plenty at home and we still have 3 weeks of summer left to at least try and get my money’s worth out of the bowling pass I bought and use the kids’ free skating passes a couple times, but I’m still surprised we haven’t checked those boxes yet!

Here’s some pics from the boxes we have checked:

We went to an outdoor movie at my sister’s house!

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 That was so much fun! I hope we can plan another one…maybe for a “Back-to-School Bash!”

We survived had a blast at VBS!

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I have definitely realized over the past year that I do not want to work with children, like ever. It’s just not fun for me. I did my best to try and enjoy working with the three year-olds I had for VBS, but the only three year-old I truly enjoy being around is my own. I’ve worked with kids of all ages over the last 5 years at our church, through the kids’ school, and through their sports, and I can say without a doubt, it’s just not for me. I couldn’t wait for VBS to be over, but the kids really enjoyed it, so of course we’ll be there again next year. I just might try to volunteer to do something that doesn’t work so closely with the kids.

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Red Night One

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My favorite time was definitely letting those wild children run around outside! I think it was their favorite part too.

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Every night we had craft time, story time with Snappy the Crab, snack time, play time (either in the gym, outside, in the room, or a combination of those), story time in the classroom, and lots of potty breaks (of course). I never imagined 2.5 hours with 10 or less 3 year-olds could be so exhausting!

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Purple Night 2

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Painting picture frames…not something I recommend doing with 3 year-olds, LOL!

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Neon Night 3 (The church fed the volunteers and their families every night that week! Sub sandwich night was our favorite!)

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Green Night 4

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Last Day!

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Thank goodness for my two youth helpers! I couldn’t have survived without them!

We went to the Splash Pad with our MOMS Club friends!

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My sister had some stuff to do at her house, so my mom and I took my niece and 2 of my nephews and Taylor’s friend.

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That’s 8 kids ages 2-10 in case you lost track 😉

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The little kids love it! Their favorite thing to do is sit in the little sinks/buckets (which you’re probably not supposed to do, LOL).

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The older girls still enjoy it too, just different parts of it.

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Between the wet playground and the dry one…

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…and eating lunch (which we always bring with us), we’re able to stay and play for several hours! You know I love getting my dollar’s worth!

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Only a few of our MOMS Club friends showed up, and I was far too busy chasing my 2 year-old niece Holly around the first hour to sit and chat with anyone. I barely even got to say hi and bye to the friends who came first and only stayed for an hour! But shortly before we left, some more friends showed up while my mom had a hold of Holly, so I actually got to sit and chat for a bit with these beauties! It was my favorite part of the day!

We went fishing for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day!

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I’m not really into fishing myself, but the girls love it and I love getting to spend time with my family outdoors. Our Mother’s Day fishing trip to the hunting land Joe Daddy leases turned up nothing, but…

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our Father’s Day trip to a local state park was super successful! Everybody made multiple catches!

We went to Stone Mountain!

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 I really wanted to go camping at Stone Mountain this year, but because we tried to make it a coordinated trip with my sister, it didn’t happen. None of us could ever go at the same time before it got way too stinking hot. Lesson learned!

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We did manage to make it out there to hike the mountain, which turned out to be the worst idea ever. It was close to 100 degrees and it turned out to be much harder of a hike for The Littles than I anticipated. There were times when I really thought the kids might have a heat stroke.

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Jules ended up puking when we got to the top. He looked something awful for a while. We lucked out and got a free ride down in the Skyride though! I guess it was too busy for them to care to check passes!

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You live and learn. I can at least finally say that I’ve hiked up Stone Mountain…and I now know that I would like to do it again, just without the kids.

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Poor Joe Daddy had to walk over two miles to and from our car to get the food we packed for the Laser Show (something we weren’t expecting to have to do when we thought we were going to be hiking back down), but I took advantage of that time and took some pics of the kids with the mountain.

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It was packed, but we had plenty of room.

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This was the best I could get out of the Fuddy Bubbie. He was over it.

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Obligatory selfie of course 🙂

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Unfortunately, despite what the weather reports indicated, just after Joe Daddy got back with our food, it poured rain for a good half hour. We left before the Laser Show even started. We were soooo bummed!

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At least we got to witness the beauty of the rain coming off the mountain! It was quite a sight to see!

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And thanks to the internet, we got to see the fireworks that we missed out on! The girls watched the video three times! I know it’s not the same, but I am kinda glad we didn’t get home at midnight.

We went to the beach.

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We didn’t go on any grand beach vacation, but we did make it out to the beach at a local state park a couple times!

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We had planned on going to the beach every Monday with our friends from church, but so far that has only happened once. Between getting sick, the rain, and the 4th, we haven’t had another opportunity. I’m still shooting for another visit before summer is over!

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It’s not Florida, but since I checked out a park pass from the library, it’s free and only 15 minutes from home (so no long driving, extensive packing, or money required)!

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They even have boat rentals! We rented the pedal boats this summer on one of our visits…