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!

 

Phoenix 2-001