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Some Of My Favorite Christmas Traditions

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It seems like every year that goes by means another Christmas tradition that the kids no longer want to do. It’s so sad but that’s what happens when you have big kids. The days of Santa pictures, matching Christmas pajamas, and spending hours driving through the Christmas town looking at lights are long gone. But we’ve created some new traditions in the last few years that we all enjoy.

1. Snowman Breakfast: We do our annual Snowman breakfast the morning of Christmas Eve. We make Snowman shaped pancakes, snowmen out of powdered donuts and straws, and white hot chocolate. The kids love it and so do I!

2. Christmas lights: Just because the kids don’t want to drive all the way to the local Christmas town to look at the lights doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some. We all wear our pajamas, grab coffee or hot cocoa from the Starbucks drive thru, listen to Christmas tunes, and drive through some of the rich neighborhoods to see the lights and decorations. It takes us less than an hour which is not long enough for the kids to start complaining but long enough to make me happy.

3. Movie marathons. One of our best traditions is our movie marathon. On the 26th, 27th, 28th, and 29th we rent 4 or 5 movies each day from Redbox. We make flavored popcorn, hot cocoa, light a fire, curl up with blankets, and watch all the movie that we didn’t have time to watch during the school year. The kids come and go depending on what movie is playing and their friends are always welcome. It’s just a great way to de-stress and relax after a long, busy Fall season. This year Tyler has basketball practice and then a 2 day tournament so we’ll be in and out but the tradition will go on.

4. Christmas goodies. We love to make Christmas goodies to enjoy and share with our friends. Maia especially enjoys it. This year we’re making Christmas crack, chocolate chip cookies, candy cane truffles, Grinch popcorn, and candied pecans. I can’t wait!

5. Christmas shows. This year we’re doing the Singing Christmas Tree, a holiday play at Tyler’s school, and the Nutcracker at the Children’s Ballet. I think this is probably the last year that I can get Tyler to come with us so I’m going to enjoy it. 

I must say, having big kids is not bad at all!

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How Christmas Wish Lists Have Changed

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I remember the good old days when my kids asked for things like My Little Pony, Hot Wheels, Disney Princesses…oh, wait. That was last year. What a difference a year makes. The kids Christmas wish lists this year are so grown up. It made me sad. But it’s also a lot easier than trying to run around and find the hot toy for the year. 

Tyler: He asked for Madden 17 for the Xbox One and a North Face fleece jacket. That was it. So I was on my own trying to figure out the rest. I added North Face gloves and a beanie cap. Then I found him 3 short sleeve Nike Dri-fit shirts on sale at Nordstrom along with a long sleeve Nike dri-fit hoodie. Finally I added his favorite cologne, a Billy Jealousy Beard Envy kit, a pair of wireless sport earbuds, a watch, and a bluetooth speaker. 

Maia: She only asked for a unicorn onesie and black converse sneakers. I added a set of fleece sheets, a hair straightener brush, a Philosophy gift set, an adidas bookbag, a pair of wireless headphones, a cat watch, and a couple of pajama sets from Old Navy with new slippers. 

Mason: He asked for fleece sheets (he’s basically a little old man) and a Pokemon binder. I added a Knex build a blaster set, a Pokemon onesie, some Beyblades, a pair of wireless headphones, some Pokemon cards, and some new basketball shorts and tees.

Zoey: She asked for art supplies. I bought her a huge coloring roll and a big Crayola art kit. I added a Playdoh ice cream set, fleece sheets, a couple of Monster High dolls, a puppy dog onesie, and some Shopkins lego sets. 

I hope they like what they’re getting this year. I feel like I was basically on my own to figure it out and it was nice to not be shopping for specific things that were hard to find. I did save a lot of money, which is a good thing. I guess this is how it will be from now on. I still have 2 who believe in Santa so I hope I have a few more years of Christmas magic. 

*Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win a $100 Visa Gift Card. Check out all of the details HERE

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A Holiday Confessional

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I cannot wrap my brain around the fact that we are less than 2 weeks away from Christmas. How is that possible? The last 6 months or so have been so jam packed busy that I feel like I haven’t had a minute to breathe. I had hoped to slow down for the holiday season but so far, that has not been the reality. Which means things are not exactly running smoothly at my house this season.

*Our Christmas decorations are only half done. I have one tree up and decorated but the other tree has lights but no ornaments. The ornaments are still in a box sitting next to the tree. That counts, right? Only half of my garland is up, the Christmas village is not finished, and I cannot find 3 of my reindeer. I’m close to just calling it done for this year.

*There will be no home made Christmas treats this year. No made from scratch cinnamon rolls, no made from scratch cookies, no crockpot hot cocoa. It’s going to be cinnamon rolls from a can, cookies from the fridge, and hot cocoa from a packet. I can only do so much.

*I bought Peppermint Schnapps for my hot cocoa. And I enjoy it. However, when making hot cocoa for the kids it’s a good idea to make sure your hot cocoa is in a special mug so those kids don’t accidentally take a big gulp from your cup. Oops.

*I’m not even going to pretend like I’m doing Christmas cards this year. I’m not. And I don’t care.

*I said no to every single Christmas party we’ve been invited to this year. I wish I wanted to go but I don’t. We’re busy, we’re tired, and I do not have the inner fortitude to make small talk right now. 

*My kids are getting a lot of useful stuff for Christmas this year. They’re getting older and I’m tired of buying big toys that they outgrow and get tired of in 2 months. I’m fully embracing the big kid stage.

*We have zero plans for Christmas day. We’re going to sleep in as late as the kids let us, and then lie around in our pajamas all day watching Christmas movies. And I cannot wait. 

*My house is a disaster zone right now. It’s bad. It’s so bad that I asked my sister to host Christmas with my parents this year. We are celebrating with them on Sunday and I just cannot get my house totally put together by then. So I’m not even going to try. 

Hope your holiday season is going better than mine! I’ll get it together….probably in mid-January.

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5 Stages Of A Halloween Hangover

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I love Halloween. I love seeing all the cute little kids dressed up begging for candy. It’s adorable. This year we went trick or treating with a big group again and it was a blast. There were about 22 of us- adults, teens, and kids- cruising the ‘hood for treats. Tyler declined to participate this year, he got home from football practice late and his knee hurt so he went to a friend’s party instead. Spoilsport. But we had a blast with our She-Wolf, Skeleton, and Kitty Witch. We walked approximately 3.4 miles around the neighborhood before coming home and consuming 3 pounds of candy in 12 minutes and proceeding to run, jump, hop, and skip around the house like kangaroos on speed for an hour before collapsing into sugar comas on the living room floor. Thus began the Halloween Hangover. 

Stage 1 (otherwise known as Why did we stay up so late): This stage began immediately when the alarm started blaring at 5:15am the morning after Halloween. It took 4 tries before I managed to turn it off because I could barely see through bleary, tired, eyes. Apparently 3 hours of sleep is not enough when you’re old.

Stage 2 (otherwise known as Who let me eat all these kit kats): Stage 1 flowed immediately into this stage when I rolled over and saw the mound of empty Kit Kat wrappers on the bedside table. Stage 2 is marked by shame. So much shame.

Stage 3 (otherwise known as How many Witches Brew shots did I do): The next stage started as soon as I tried to sit up and both my head and stomach protested violently. Those Witches Brew shots sure are good though. 

Stage 4 (otherwise known as Who is taking these kids to school): This would be the stage where Matt and I stared each other down in the kitchen having an entire argument with our eyes because our heads were pounding too bad to speak out loud. 

Stage 5 (otherwise known as Everyone go back to bed): The stage began when it became clear that neither one of us was going to win the stare down. Tyler caught a ride to school because he couldn’t miss football practice and the rest of us went back to bed for a few hours until we could wake up feeling more like human beings again.

We have successfully survived Halloween 2016. Go us. I don’t want to see another Kit Kat for a year.

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How I Manage Large Family Life

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We have a large family. 6 people live in our house full time, along with 3 dogs, and one kid that lives here part time. It takes a lot to keep this household running smoothly but it can be done. With proper preparation and smart planning, it can be done. 

1. Groceries. We eat a lot of food in this house. A lot of food. And I do not have the time or energy to go to the grocery store multiple times a week. I do one Sams Club trip at the beginning of the month. I do a smaller Walmart pick up order once a week. And I do a trip to Aldi’s every other week.

2. Learn to say no. I no longer feel the need to say yes to everything that is asked of me. I don’t feel even a twinge of guilt for saying no to volunteering at school, birthday parties for kids that my kids don’t even like, or events that we have no interest in attending.

3. Limit the commitments. A few years ago we established the “one activity per season” rule. I cannot do multiple activities for each child. And bonus- the kids don’t burn out.

4. Get up early. I am not a morning person. Not even a little bit, y’all. But I get up at 5:30 every morning because it gives me the extra time I need to get stuff done. I sit with my planner and see what is happening that day.

5. Find your perfect planner. I found one I love this year- the Plum Paper Planner. It’s amazing. I use it for everything in our life. It keeps track of everyone’s activities, practices, events, and games. It keeps track of due dates for important papers and projects. I use it to remind me of phone calls and appointments to make. If I lose it, I will cease to function.

6. Meal planning. I was doing a monthly meal plan but things kept coming up and meals kept getting pushed back. It just wasn’t working anymore. Now I meal plan once a week. I keep a running list of our favorite meals on an app to make it fast and easy to plan. Then I spend Friday afternoon doing our next week’s meal plan along with my Walmart pick up grocery order. It works!

7. Laundry. The bane of my existence, but I have a system now. Instead of the kids having individual laundry baskets in their rooms I put 2 baskets in the linen closet- one for light wash and one for dark wash. It saves me time not having to sort their laundry on wash day.

8. Create a command center. I converted a section of my second pantry into our command center. It holds the family calendar, the daily files, the kids school papers, the printer, and everything else we use on a regular basis.

9. Make a drop zone. I had to make a drop zone in order to stop the front foyer from being the drop zone. We have a whole lot of stuff coming into this house on a daily basis- football gear, book bags, lunch boxes, jackets….it’s just a lot of stuff. Creating a drop area has helped a lot.

10. Have a shared family email account. I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner. I use the family email for football, basketball, soccer, dance, gymnastics, and school reminders. So every member of the family has access to all the information.

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