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5 Reasons Why My Current Stage Of Life Is Easier

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I almost hesitate to say it out loud or write it down but my life has gotten much easier. I feel like I’m tempting fate to drop the other shoe but it’s the truth. Gone are the days of midnight feedings and dragging baby equipment everywhere and entertaining small humans all day long. Life is busy, don’t get me wrong, but it’s inherently easier. It’s been a few months since I really started noticing the change. It snuck up on me out of the blue. 

1. We have built in babysitting. Matt and I went on a quick trip to Lowes last night at 7:00 and left the girls at home together. We routinely let Tyler or Maia babysit for Zoey and Mason. Small errands that used to be awful when we dragged 3 kids with us are actually enjoyable when it’s just the two of us! 

2. The house is cleaner. As the kids get older we have less big toys cluttering up everywhere and the toys that the kids do still have are all kept in their bedrooms. I have a strict policy on toys downstairs now. If they are still downstairs when I go to bed they get tossed in the Goodwill box and the offending child has 5 days to earn them back before they get donated. My house is very nearly company ready most of the time now. I never thought I’d see the day.

3. The kids help. They all have daily, weekly, and monthly chores that they’re responsible for doing. I hate washing windows but Zoey loves it so that’s her chore. I hate to dust so Mason does that. Maia is in charge of picking up dog poo in the yard. Tyler takes care of the yard. They all are responsible for bringing their dirty sheets down on laundry day. They get their own drinks and snacks now instead of bugging me 38 times an hour for a snack. They put their dishes in the dishwasher. It’s glorious.

4. We have better technology. I never set foot in a grocery store. I order on the app and pick it up in the parking lot. Anything I forget I can have delivered to my door in 2 days with Amazon Prime shipping. Almost all of my shopping is done online now for household stuff, kids clothes, my clothes, dog supplies…this alone has increased my happiness level by at least 150%. Pretty much anything I need to do I have an app for on my phone. I love technology.

5. There’s less pressure. I don’t know what it is about getting older that makes me care less about what others think. I don’t feel the pressure to put on a facade of the perfect life anymore. Life is messy and there’s no such thing as perfect. I care less about keeping up with the Joneses and more about finding satisfaction in the things that bring me joy. I don’t care if someone is judging my pajama pants and top knot in the car line. I don’t care. It’s very freeing. 

I’m really loving this new stage of life. I’m enjoying every day. I’m taking time to do the things I like- drinking margaritas in the hot tub, reading a great book at the bus stop, sitting by the fire pit with Matt at night making plans for the summer. Those are the things I want more of in my life. So all you mamas who are still in the trenches of toddlerhood and sleepless nights and the dreaded 3 year old dictatorship stage- hang in there. It gets better. 

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5 Things Friday {5.12.17}

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We are winding down on this school year, y’all. And we are literally limping across the finish line again this year. I am so ready for long lazy days at the pool with a margarita in hand. So ready. I will never understand why schools pack in 6 months worth of stuff into the last month of the school year. Why? Why do they do this to us? It’s been a busy week around here but we got a lot of stuff done!

1. I mostly finished my master bedroom redo. Finally. I got the new curtains hung that I picked up for a steal at IKEA in the as-is bins. I got the new bedding on and hung the pom pom garland I’ve had for months but just never got around to doing. I love how it all turned out. This is generally the most neglected room in the house so it’s been half finished for about a year now. I’m still working on the other side of the room so I’ll share that when I figure out exactly what I want to do. 

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2. I also finished up a couple of projects I’ve been working on for the last week or so. I, and by that I mean Matt, finished assembling my new TV stand and I decluttered and restyled the decor in the room. I love it! I also finished chalk painting the red cabinet in the upstairs hallway, hung the mirror that’s been sitting on the floor for about a year now, and added some decor. It turned out perfect. 

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3.  We also worked a lot on the front yard landscaping. Matt cut down all the old bushes in front of the window. I’ve hated those bushes for years and finally convinced Matt that they needed to go. It had to get done quickly because our pine straw was getting delivered the next day. And of course, as it always happens around here, the weather forecast included a 90% chance of rain the day after the pine straw was delivered. So we spent hours that evening spreading it in the beds we created. The kids helped a lot. And then it didn’t rain at all. Of course. Ha! This is my life. 

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4. In between errands and chores, Matt and I snuck away for an impromptu early dinner at Hwy 55. We had to go to Lowes to pick up some stuff and then planned to return our redbox movies in a little shopping center. The Hwy 55 was right next door. How could we resist? It was nice. We rarely get out on our own to eat anymore so I enjoyed it. The joys of having older kids who can babysit.

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5. Maia is quite the artist in our house. She loves to draw and paint and she is passionate about photography. She recently had one of her paintings from school chosen to be displayed in the art show put on by her charter school. She was the only 6th grader who had a piece chosen to be displayed. And she doesn’t even like this piece, she thinks it’s not one of her best. 

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So that’s a pretty accurate recap of my week. And the weekend will be more decluttering, cleaning, and finishing projects. And grocery shopping- Walmart, Sam’s Club, and Aldi all in one day. Be jealous of my exciting life. 

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Southern Style Baked Macaroni & Cheese

My kids are huge lovers of macaroni and cheese. HUGE. And it cannot be the boxed Kraft Macaroni and Cheese with the powder cheese. Oh no. These spoiled kids are too good for powdered cheese. They want the real deal. I experimented with different recipes and ingredients for years until I finally hit on to the perfect combination. My kids request this macaroni and cheese at least twice a week. Don’t worry, I don’t make it for them twice a week. I make it twice a month and I make 2 pans at a time because they gobble this up like hungry vultures. This is a really versatile macaroni recipe. Sometimes I add ham, other times I add sausage, or shrimp…or just plain macaroni as a side dish when we grill burgers and brats! 

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Ingredients:
1 box elbow noodles
8 oz cottage cheese
12 oz sour cream
1 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese*
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:
1. Boil noodles as directed on package; drain.
2. In baking dish sprayed with cooking spray, combine cooked noodles, cottage cheese, sour cream, shredded Pepper Jack cheese and 1 1/2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese.
3. Optional: Add sliced sausage, diced ham, or shredded chicken.
4. Top with remaining sharp cheddar cheese.
5. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

*My family likes a little spice so I use Pepper Jack cheese. You can substitute Colby Jack if you’d prefer. I’ve made it both ways and it’s equally delicious!

This is the dish I typically make whenever we go to any pot lucks or cookouts. It’s always a crowd pleaser and it makes a bunch. 

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10 Friends In Your Mom Circle

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As I’ve gotten older I’ve noticed that the friends I have fall into a category. I have very few friends that are just friends- not people I met through my kids or who I associate with so frequently that we’re technically friends. Being a mom means you don’t always get to choose your own friends. I’ve lucked out and I have some great friends, even the ones that I met through my kids. There are pretty much 10 types of friends in my circles these days. 

1. The Favor Friend- You might not really like her but somehow you owe her approximately 347 favors. She’s always the first one to jump in and volunteer to help you with something, even when you haven’t asked for help. Then the next thing you know you owe her another favor. She’s a stay home mom but could probably be a very successful mob boss if she really wanted to go that direction. 

2. The PTA Friend- She’s very involved and actually enjoys the PTA. She attends all the meetings (sober) and reports back to you so you don’t have to go. She organizes the bake sales and charity concerts and end of the year carnivals. But fair warning- let her calls go to voice mail for at least 3 days after a PTA meeting or the next thing you know you’ll be dressed like a clown sitting in a dunk booth at a carnival that you had no intention of attending. True story. 

3. The Carpool Friend- The friend you call at the last minute when something happens and one of your kids needs a ride to school. And she always says yes without hesitation. You do the same for her. This is a very powerful friendship and should not be underestimated. A mom willing to sit through car line for you is a true friend.

4. The Sports Team Friend- She’s not really your type but your kids have been on the same sports teams for years and she’s grown on you. It helps when she’s also a rebel who likes to bring wine in her Yeti cup to the games. Bonus points if she knows the refs by name and yells at them. 

5. The informed Friend- She knows everything about everybody and she’s the first call you make when you need details. This is not the friend to have a heart to heart talk with, however. Anything you tell her is fair game for public consumption. So listen, smile, nod, and keep your thoughts to yourself to make this friendship work. 

6. The Play Date Friend- Your kid is best friends with her kid so once a week you make small talk over organic carrots and gluten free hummus (her house) or BBQ chips and Sprite (your house). Make sure you scrub your bathroom spotless before the playdate. She is judging you. 

7. The Hand Me Down Friend- Every few months several big bags of clothes and toys end up on your porch. And not the junk- the good stuff.  I have a hand me down chain going on. A friend hands down to my kid and I pass on to another kid whose mom then passes on to another kid. It’s saved all of us thousands of dollars over the years.

8. The Sales Friend- She sells every life changing product around. And she shares her discount with friends which is great because that crap is expensive. Just don’t try to rope me into your sales crew. I don’t like people and that makes selling them crap they don’t need really hard. 

9. The Melodramatic Friend- You spend most of your phone conversations talking her down off a ledge because her kid ate soap, or a worm, or started talking to her imaginary friend in the grocery store and oh my gosh, does that mean she’s having a psychotic break? True story. Pro tip- screen her calls and don’t answer every time or she’ll expect it. 

10. The Selfless Friend- She will drop everything and anything if you call her in an emergency. She’s a great listener, not a gossip, loves your kids, always has good advice, and is fun to be around. These friends- they are unicorns and should be treasured above all others. 

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5 Things Friday {5.5.17}

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I don’t know what it is about Spring that gives me the purging and decorating bug but it happens every single year. The last week has been full of projects and purging and I’m nowhere near done. Matt is so thrilled with me right now. 

1. We started off last weekend with outdoor work. Matt power washed the front of the house, the porch, and the driveway. It looks so much better now. Then he laid the black edging in the yard for our new beds. Pine straw is being delivered on Monday and that will seriously help our curb appeal. Tyler had football practice early on Saturday morning but when he got home he vacuumed out all 3 cars and then washed them. Earning his keep, y’all. Earning his keep.

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2. While they were working on the outside, I was working inside. A good friend of mine was getting rid of her nearly brand new king size bed because her fiance is moving into her house and he prefers to keep his bed. Seriously, she’s only had this bed for a few months! It’s a $2500 mattress! And she gave it to us for FREE! I’ve always wanted a king size bed but it was way down the list of stuff to buy. So I’m not going to pass up a free one in brand new condition. Matt rented a small UHaul and he took Tyler to pick it up.

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3. And as it always happens, one project turns into a whole list of projects. We ended up switching the kids beds around again…for the second time in less than 2 months. We gave Zoey’s loft bed to our nephew, Jax. We moved Mason’s full size bed into Zoey’s room and Mason got our old queen size bed. Everyone was happy. Except Matt, who technically did 99% of the actual moving. But we got it done. And our whole house is in a state of disarray with stuff everywhere. I started purging in one room and it trickled into another room and so on and so on. Then at around 6:30pm on Sunday night I realized we have NO KING SIZE SHEETS for our new bed. None. So Matt and I made what was supposed to be a quick trip to IKEA for sheets. And we came home with a new TV cabinet, new pillows, new curtains, new sheets, new comforters….you know how that goes. 

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4. And lest you think I’ve given away my kids to concentrate on my house, I took Maia back to the eye doctor office to get her glasses tightened. They fit fine at first but then started slipping down her face while she was reading in class. She had the whole librarian glasses at the end of her nose thing going on. 

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5. As part of my purging and house re-doing, I moved the red cabinet from our foyer to our upstairs landing in the hallway. It looks much better up there but the red was just too….red. So I used the leftover chalk paint from Maia’s bedroom project and painted it yesterday. It literally took me less than an hour and it made such a difference. 

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It’s been a busy week. And the weekend will be even busier. We’re working in the yard again tomorrow and I have a gazillion projects to finish inside to. But it feels so good to get some things off my ever growing to do list!

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