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Our Plans For An Amazing Summer

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It’s here, y’all! The first official day of summer vacation at our house for all the kids. Tyler’s been out of school since May 23 and Maia was done June 2 but the little kids last day was on Friday. We are so excited! It was super sad saying goodbye to our favorite teachers at the little kids’ elementary school though. This is our last year at that school after having at least one kid enrolled there since 2006. It’s on to a new school next year- the same charter school where Tyler attends school and while the kids are excited I was sad to say goodbye to some of the teachers who’ve meant so much to our family.

But we’re ready to dive into summer vacation this year. We don’t have any plans for a big beach vacation or anything. Putting 4 kids in charter school is expensive y’all so we’re forgoing the big beach vacation and sticking close to home this summer. Plus Tyler has football workouts 4-6 days a week all summer long and physical therapy twice a week so that kills the summer vacation plans. We are so busy during the school year that we all really just want to relax during the summer. I asked the kids what they wanted to do this summer and the number one thing they all agreed on was sleep in, followed closely by swimming. 

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Most days will consist of the pool, the hot tub, play dates with friends, and playing outside in the yard. My kids are happiest at home where they can relax. I’m fortunate that they don’t require a lot of entertaining, they are very much self sufficient and able to amuse themselves without my direction. I foresee lots of hours at the neighborhood pool with friends and lounging in the hot tub. Not having to drive Tyler up to football practice and sit and wait in the parking lot this summer means we can pretty much be at the pool all day every day if we want.

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I also see lots of movie nights and sleepovers. Dinners on the back deck and nights in the hot tub also factor heavily into my summer plans. Mama loves her a good frozen margarita while soaking in the hot tub! I’d also love to take the kids to some of the free summer concerts and movie nights in the park that our city does. I think they would love that. Basically my goal is to spend as much time outside as possible this summer with some trips to the library sprinkled in there too. Maia has set a goal to read 30 books this summer and Mason wants to read 10. 

There are a few house projects that I want to get done this summer. I want to get all the trim in the house painted- it hasn’t been repainted in the 12 years that we’ve lived here. I want to get the kids bathroom upstairs painted. I really want to get Zoey and Mason’s rooms redone but that might be too ambitious for this summer. We are definitely going to get the backyard done. We actually already started that project this weekend. Matt cut down all the old bushes that were just randomly placed around the yard and he cut down 3 small trees. Then we (and by we, I mean Matt and Tyler) leveled the section of yard that has been eroding every time it rained. Today we’re getting hundreds of dollars of river rock delivered to start filling in the yard. It’s going to be a big project but it will be so worth it!

I’m so ready for this summer break. It’s been a long year of school. It was a great year but a long year. I look forward to recharging my batteries and enjoying some time with my kids. 

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Observations From A Snow Day

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We started hearing news reports about the impending winter storm heading for our city last week. As the days went on the reports got more intense and the projected snow totals started to rise. By Friday afternoon they were calling for 6-8″ of snow in my area, the grocery store shelves were bare, and all activities were canceled for the weekend. This is the South. We shelter in place at the mere hint of a snow storm heading towards us. All my people were home safe by 4:30pm on Friday with no intentions of leaving for days. I think back now to snow days from a few years ago when the kids were younger and snow days were the things nightmares were made of. It’s as if I’m living a totally different life these days. 

1. Nobody really wanted to go outside and play. Tyler and Maia are way over the stage of wanting to go outside and play in it. Zoey likes snow in theory. She likes to look at it from the window. But the first bit of snow that found its way inside her glove and she was over it. Mason went out with her in the snow for a little bit. They dressed themselves, undressed themselves, and required nothing from me. They threw snowballs at the dogs, Chase tried to eat their gloves right off their hands, and that was the end. They lasted about 10 minutes and then wanted to play Xbox for the rest of the day.  

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2. Snow cream is delicious when you add vanilla vodka and half and half. Really delicious. Also- don’t mix up which batch has vanilla vodka and which batch is alcohol free. 

3. I should have been a meteorologist. We were supposed to get the 6-8″ of snow. That’s it. Instead we got 7 hours of sleet followed by 2 inches of snow. Clearly not the same thing. Meteorologist is the only career where you can be wrong 90% of the time and still have a job. Just blame it on Mother Nature and shrug your shoulders. 

4. The dogs enjoyed the snow more than any of the people in the house. They ran, chased each other, rolled around, ate snow, and acted like little kids. They were hysterical to watch. 

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5. The only time I left my house was to pour hot water over the heater to defrost it. Yes we still do that. If you’re a long time reader then you probably remember the time we almost got arrested while defrosting our heater. If you haven’t read the story you should. It’s a classic. The neighbors still talk about it. 

6. The new neighbor came over to borrow some milk. She’s from the North and this is her first winter down here in the South. She did not heed the warnings to stock up on bread and milk as though preparing for a zombie apocalypse. Everything shuts down in the South when it snows. 

7. The neighbor took one look at me decked out head to toe in fleece and asked if I was taking my kids out to play in the snow. Nope, that’s how I dress every day from November until March. In fleece. Meanwhile she wore flip flops with toe-less socks. Clearly we are not the same species. 

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So the snow day was a fun break from reality. We made Crockpot Taco Chicken Chili, watched the football wild card games, and enjoyed snow cream in front of the fireplace. 

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2016 Year In Review

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2016 was a great year. We did lots of fun stuff as a family, we made a lot of changes in our life, and we embraced life. There was some hard stuff and some struggles but we persevered and didn’t let them get us down for long. Here are just a few of the highlights from 2016!

January:

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A water leak in one of our main front windows led to brand new hardwood flooring in our living room, Tyler’s room, and our upstairs hallway. It wasn’t exactly in the plans for 2016 but I’m so glad we went ahead and did it. What a difference!

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Mason turned 8 and celebrated with Panthers cupcakes and good friends! He’s such a cool kid. I can’t wait to see what he accomplishes in life. 

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We ended January with a good snowfall. Being in the South, we don’t get a lot of snow so we really enjoy it when we do get it. I think we only had one real snow storm in 2016 but we got about 9 inches so it lasted for awhile. 

February:

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I started February working hard to finish the master bathroom remodel. A water leak inside the wall behind the vanity meant a total overhaul of the bathroom. It was way overdue and I’m so glad we went ahead and did it. 

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February also saw our hometown team, The Panthers, in the Superbowl. Although it didn’t end the way we wanted we still celebrated their amazing season. We hosted a fun Superbowl party with friends and family and a good time was had by all. 

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Mason and Tyler both finished out the 2015-16 basketball season. Both of their teams made the playoffs and they had a good run. 

March:

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We started off March with Zoey’s very first lost tooth! She was so excited. And the Tooth Fairy actually remembered to come so I’m calling it a win. 

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We spent a lot of time at IKEA while finishing up our master bathroom remodel. A lot of time. And money. A whole lot of money. 

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But it was worth it when the remodel was finally done. Especially since it didn’t cost us anything- insurance covered 100% of this remodel! 

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The weather finally warmed up and we started having a yard full of kids again enjoying the sunshine and playground.

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The hot tub got cleaned, refilled, and ready for the season. I love this hot tub. 

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We celebrated Matt’s 39th birthday with a family dinner out at Texas Roadhouse. And a Jamaican Cowboy margarita. 

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We went up to see my parents for Easter and the kids had a huge easter egg hunt in her big yard. She stuffed the eggs with money and candy which guaranteed Tyler was out there with the little kids searching for eggs. 

April:

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Zoey attended the Kindergarten beginners night at the elementary school and I got a glimpse of having all my babies in school for the first time ever. 

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We bought a yearly membership to the state zoo and took our first trip there. It’s a little over an hour away from us and so much fun. Matt’s parents met us there to spend some time with the kids and it was a great day!

May:

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We spent a lot of time at the neighborhood playground usually with a pack of kids from our street. The absolute best thing about our neighborhood is how many friends our kids have here. 

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We hosted a huge Memorial Day BBQ at our house and had a big crowd come celebrate with us. We grilled, drank beer, opened the hot tub, and had a great time. 

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Our neighborhood pool opened for the season on Memorial Day weekend and the kids could not wait to take a swim! We spend a large part of our summer right here at the pool and I’m so grateful to have this amenity for our family. 

June:

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We celebrated Maia’s graduation from 5th grade as a family. 

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Maia graduated from 5th grade and Mason finished up 2nd grade while Zoey finished her last year in Pre-K. Tyler finished his freshman year strong with all A’s and B’s. 

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We packed up and headed out for a week at the beach!

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It was a fantastic week full sunshine and family fun. 

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Tyler enjoyed his last week of freedom between school ending and summer football starting.

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These three turned into the biggest beach bums ever. They were perfectly happy to be on the beach from sun up to sun set!

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I love the beach so much that this has been my phone screensaver ever since we got back. 

July:

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We spent a whole lot of July at the pool because it was so dang hot! The kids swam with friends and I read a lot of books. A good time was had by all. 

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We also spent a lot of time at the playground at Tyler’s school waiting for him to finish weight lifting with the football team. 

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Camden came to spend a week with us and had a great time swimming with the kids. 

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I spent a lot of time sitting in the car when football field practices started towards the end of the month. It was hot. 

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We dropped Tyler off at the end of the month for his very first 3 day football camp with the varsity team. He was promoted to the first team within the first few hours. He also was the oldest looking player getting on the bus. Ha!

August:

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August saw us spending a whole lot of time on the football practice field as the varsity team moved to two a day practices in prep for the season. 

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We had a blast at the annual neighbors night out party that our neighborhood throws every summer. There was volleyball, a DJ, tons of food, and lots of friends. 

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Tyler found out that he had earned a starting position on the offensive line for the varsity football team. He was so excited and honored, being one of the only underclassmen to earn a starting position. 

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We attended our first tailgate at the first home game of the season. I love this school so so much.

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Tyler had his very first day of school at his new charter school. Truthfully, it didn’t feel like a new school by the time the first day rolled around because we spent so much time their over the summer with football. That was such a blessing. He walked into his first day of 10th grade at a brand new school already knowing so many people. 

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Maia started 6th grade at her brand new charter school. She’s rocked 6th grade so far and she loves her school. 

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Mason started 3rd grade and baby Zoey went off to Kindergarten. All my kids are in school!

September:

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This little beauty turned 6! My last little lady is a big kid now. Those 6 years flew by so fast!

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We celebrated homecoming at Tyler’s school. Family from both sides came along with lots of friends to help us tailgate before the big football game. It was so much fun and so nice to have family to support Tyler!

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Tyler had a great game, playing both right tackle and nose guard for most of the game. 

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Unfortunately he took a shot to the side of the head and ended up with a pretty severe concussion that took him out of football for the second half of September. 

October:

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Tyler played his last home football game of the season and celebrated a huge victory over their conference rivals. 

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We celebrated at our neighborhoods Fall Festival with cotton candy, hay rides, and good friends. 

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Halloween had us trick or treating through our neighborhood with a huge group of friends and family. 

November:

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Tyler played his last football game of the season in the playoffs. It was a tough loss but he played hard and had a great season. I’m so proud of this man-child. 

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We threw a huge surprise birthday party for my mom’s 70th birthday up at her house. It was a blast and she was shocked. It was an afternoon full of old friends, good food, and grandkids. 

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This boy turned 16! He’s more man than child at this point. He celebrated with friends and a homemade ice cream cake followed by an all-night Call of Duty Xbox tournament with 20 of his closest friends. 

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My first baby girl turned 12! She’s becoming such a fabulous young lady right before our eyes. She’s smart, kind, funny, and determined. I can’t wait to see where she goes in life. 

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We hosted both sides of the family for Thanksgiving again and had a house full. It was a fun day full of food and football. One of the greatest blessings in our life is having so much family to celebrate with. 

December:

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We celebrated having big kids by wrapping gifts early and enjoying seeing them underneath a beautiful tree for the entire season. 

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Matt took the 3 biggest kids to a Hornets game and treated them to a fun night on the town. It was the first Hornets game they’ve been to in quite awhile and they had so much fun!

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Santa visited our house and left tons of great presents. We had a great Christmas break full of fun, friends, football, and food. Matt had 10 days off in a row with the kids and we made the most of them. 

2016 gave us a lot of great memories. Now onward to 2017! Happy New Year, friends. 

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10 Differences In Christmas With Older Kids

Every year Christmas is different. As the kids get older Christmas changes. It’s not a bad change, it’s just different. I dare say, it’s more fun. I realized recently just how much stress I put on myself trying to make the perfect Christmas for the kids. Now that they’re older the frantic need to make Christmas magical has kind of…dissipated. The result is a much more relaxed and easy-going Christmas for everyone. I figure I only have a few more years of Santa in my house. Mason is almost 9 and he’s already questioning. Zoey is 6 and one of her little friends has already tried to spill the beans to her. Christmas will be weird with no Santa and no Jingles the Elf. I’ll enjoy these last few years while I can, even if they are already totally different than just a few short years ago. 

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10 Ways Christmas is Different with Older Kids

1. I actually look forward to the long Christmas break from school. I never thought a day would come when I was actually counting down the days until the kids were out of school on break. I used to dread it when I knew all the kids would be home all day every day for over a week. Now it’s like heaven. No alarm clocks, no schedules, no homework. 

2. The kids sleep in late. We actually had to wake them up on Christmas morning. Matt and I sat around watching A Christmas Story and sipping coffee until around 9:30 when we finally decided to start waking up kids. 

3. I wrapped all the gifts and had them under the tree the week before Christmas. This is the first year for that. I trust that the kids will keep their hands off the gifts and it was fine. I’m sure they pawed through them and shook them but none were opened and nothing disappeared. 

4. It didn’t take me until the wee hours of the night on Christmas Eve to put Christmas morning together. Everything was wrapped and under the tree. All I had to do was fill the stockings. The kids are past the big toy stage that requires me to spend hours putting stuff together. I can’t say that I miss that stage. Especially since Matt either fell asleep on the couch and was no help or wouldn’t stop playing with the toys and was no help.

5. We watched the unedited version of my favorite Christmas movie- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. The kids didn’t even notice. Ha! The edited version just doesn’t do it for me. Some of my favorite lines are cut out of the edited version.

6. 99.9% of my Christmas shopping was done online. None of my kids cared about or asked for a “hot toy” so I didn’t have to run to every store in a 100 mile radius searching. I shopped from my couch on my iPad in my pajamas. As God intended. 

7. There are no more matching Christmas morning pajamas. In fact, this year I had to tell Tyler to go put on pants. Yeah. Nobody needs to see that.

8. The egg nog is full of alcohol because the kids know not to drink it. I might have told them it would give them salmonella to reinforce the no drinking it rule but whatevs. 

9. I’m not forced to participate in arts and crafts anymore. No more hand print reindeer, no more tissue paper stained glass popsicle art projects. The little kids do some holiday art projects in school and the big kids don’t care. So I’m finally off the hook.

10. I didn’t take one posed picture. I got tons of candid shots but I didn’t make them all pose for one very unnatural and fake looking picture. I captured their true personalities in the moment and it’s perfection. 

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Merry Christmas 2016

We had such a fantastic Christmas at our house this year. It was laid back and easy and we thoroughly enjoyed every single minute. We didn’t host anyone so it was truly a no pressure holiday. Christmas Eve had us scrambling to get to church on time, as usual, and the only picture I managed to get was Maia and Abby because the girls were the only ones ready on time.

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The kids wandered off to bed after we baked tons of cookies, ate delicious Stuffed Shells, and watched the football game. Basically it was my idea of a perfect night! Pasta, cookies, and football. What could be better? We did manage to catch Santa in the act as Matt and I headed up to bed around 1am. Shhhh…

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Matt and I had to wake up kids at 9:30 because we were tired of waiting. Then it took 10 minutes or so to get Tyler out of bed. He’s been battling bronchitis so he’s sleeping a lot in between basketball practices. 

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The little kids shocked me by opening their stockings first. Further proof that they are getting older. A few years ago I started filling their stockings with only candy. I hit the dollar store and load up on festive candy. The kids are happy and I’m happier not having little junk toys all over the place. The only person even happier is their dentist. Sigh.

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They didn’t even dive into the pile of presents either. They handed them out nicely and opened one at a time instead of trying to rip them all open at once. I have big kids now. Sniff…

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It looks like a ton of gifts under the tree but they got a lot of needs as well as some wants. Mason and Maia needed pajamas, all the kids got slippers, Maia needed a book bag, the three little kids got fleece sheets, Tyler got a North Face jacket, gloves, and hat. I try to combine wants and needs now that they’re older.

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The three younger kids got fleece onesies. They look ridiculous but they love them. I couldn’t get these kids to wear fleece onesies when they were toddler but they’ll happily wear them now. I’m so confused. I cannot see these pictures without envisioning Ralphie in his pink bunny onesie in A Christmas Story. Ha!

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Matt got a North Face jacket, 2 Joel Osteen books on CD, and a Virtual Reality headset. All of them have had the best time with that VR headset. I tried the roller coaster and it made me sick. But they love it!

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Even the pups got in on the action. They got new chew toys but they had the most fun with the wrapping paper and bows. 

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We capped off the morning with some delicious biscuits and gravy while we watched A Christmas Story! I made the most amazing Cinnamon Roll Bake for dinner because I’m a rebel. No big elaborate dinners for us. We ate Cinnamon Roll Bake, drank coffee and hot cocoa, and watched football! Perfection. I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas with your families!

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