Family Fun in Nashville!

The weather is warming up here in Nashville, and the days are getting longer! It’s the perfect time of year to get out of the house and find some family fun!

Here are my outdoor picks: 

Bicentennial Mall State Park – this is one of my favorite parks here in Nashville. It is quiet, and there is plenty of room to run around. The amphitheatre is great for sitting, playing with toys or a picnic. (Bonus points for the splash pad that is open for the summer)

The park is also right next to the Nashville Farmer’s Market, which is really fun to take the kids too as well. They usually have some vendors there every day and inside there are a bunch of cool places to eat, including crepes and ice cream.

On the other side of the river close to Nissan Stadium is  Cumberland Park. This park has a couple of different play areas (including a splash pad), a climbing wall, and a sand area. There is plenty of room to eat a picnic lunch. Also, if you feel comfortable you can walk your kids down to the river and let them throw some rocks.

Our family has a membership to the Nashville Zoo , so that is always a great option. We have a pass that includes my parents and all the grandchildren, so we can also bring some friends along. Walking the entire zoo can be a little bit much for my kids sometimes, but we often go just to play on the giant playground. It is huge, so be prepared to have to go looking for your kids. But, my kids love, love, love this place.

If your kids are into hiking, take them to Radnor Lake and make an adventure of it. Pack a picnic lunch, and go check out the trails and the lake. There is also an aviary with owls and bald eagles you can hike to. There is a trail map on the website, if you want to plan ahead.

Hanging out at Radnor Lake!


Here are my Indoor picks:

The Frist Center is free for anyone under 18. It is $12 for adults and if you are a mom who happens to be a college student, like myself, it is $9. We went last year and it was really cool! Now that the kids area is back open, there is more for the kids to do!

Now, I know it is Spring, and you are probably ready for warm temperatures, but I have to mention Centennial Sportsplex’s Ice Rink. The admission is not bad, and my kids love to go. They do have the skating trainer’s that you can rent for your child. If you are more into swimming, they also have an indoor pool on the other side! There is also the Ford Ice Center in Antioch, and folks on the West side of town can look forward to an ice center and community center opening in September! (I am so excited for this!)

If you are hoping to have some fun downtown, think about taking the kids to the Old Spaghetti Factory or check out Legendairy Milk Shake Bar!

I am sure that there are many more ideas, but I really wanted to include ones that were on the more affordable side. What do you love to do in Nashville? I would love to see your comments here or on Facebook! And if you don’t live in Nashville, you might think about a cheap summer trip!

A quick tip to save money…

Have you ever tried Ibotta or Fetch Rewards? You can earn money by grocery shopping! We often use our reward money for gift cards and date nights. With Ibotta, you can transfer the $ directly to your bank account! Once you earn $20 you are able to use your money!

Download Fetch Rewards here! Then, enter my referral code, M4AQR at the sign-up screen and you’ll get 3,000 Fetch Points ($3.00 in points!) when you complete one receipt. I love Fetch because you get points for every receipt and you don’t have to do anything but upload your receipt and it finds the rewards for you!


Super Soft Tummy Control Leggings

Happy New Year 2019

Happy New Year! I took a little time off in December to spend with my family and finish up school, but I am excited to be back blogging! Every year, I try to re-evalutae the blog and see what worked and what didn’t work. This is how I wind up planning much of the content I post during the year.

So, last year I chose a word for the very first time and published it on the blog. I chose the word grateful, and even though I wasn’t always grateful, having the word helped me a lot. Being conscious of that word helped me to grow in so many ways last year, and helped me to catch myself when I was being ungrateful. It also reminded me to cut some things out of my life that were breeding discontent and anxiety. So, my word of the year experiment was pretty successful.

This year, I am choosing two words. One is a personal word and one is a professional word. My personal word is present and my professional word is complete. This year, I want to make a conscious effort to be more present with my family. I want to unplug and spend more quality time with all of my kids and my husband.

My professional word is something that I need to help me be intentional about completing my goals. This year, I managed to raise baby chicks into full grown chickens and now we are seeing the fruit of that labor because we have an abundant supply of fresh, delicious, eggs. I can only imagine what could happen for me professionally if I push through and complete my professional goals this year.

I haven’t made any resolutions, but I have made some goals for this year. I am excited to see how this year goes, and what happens in my life. How about you? Do you have a word for the year? Any lofty or even small goals?

P.S. One great thing I did was take a Make Over Your Mornings Course from Crystal Paine this year. If you are struggling in the mornings, why not give it a try? M

Back to School!

Here in Nashville, school starts in just a little over two weeks. It is really hard to believe that the summer break is almost over! July always seems to fly by, and then suddenly we are thrust into schedules and homework again. Plus with all of the back to school shopping it can be a little overwhelming, financially and mentally. Today, I wanted to give you some tips for easing back into a schedule and getting ready for back to school shopping.

The one thing that I prioritize every year is getting our family back into a normal bedtime routine.

This can be especially difficult for those of us who are SAHM’s or teachers, as we have also been going to bed later and sleeping in as well. About two weeks before school starts back, I like to gradually scoot bedtime back to a reasonable hour. Then by the time we are starting back to school, we are ready for those early morning hours.

*A note: You have to be really intentional about getting back into a routine, because it can be easy to put it off and then struggle that first week back.

By far though, back to school shopping can be the most stressful part for me, because I am trying to budget all this extra money for school supplies and clothes.

I always struggle between just going to buy the stuff or waiting until tax free weekend, which can actually save you a good bit of money. Especially if you are buying big ticket items like computers and tablets.

So here is my number one rule for shopping on tax free weekend: Go EARLY on Friday morning. This way you miss quite a bit of the crowds. Most Walmart’s are open 24 hours or really early, so you can go at midnight if you want. I prefer a more reasonable hour, like say 6 or 7 am! Another plus of going that early is that you can leave your kids home sleeping while your husband gets ready for work. If you can at all avoid it, do not go shopping after Friday! It is sure to be crowded and chaotic!

Check with your school principal or PTO to see if you can go ahead and get a supply list now. By the time school starts, the supplies are pretty picked over. If your school has a Facebook page, check to see if the lists are uploaded there.

Here are some great deals on Amazon that can be disbursed between your children:

Elmer’s Disappearing Purple School Glue, Washable, 30 Pack, 0.24-ounce sticks – $8.79 Shipped

Ticonderoga Pencils 96 count – $9.96 Shipped

Walmart, Target, and Staples will usually be your best bet on the prices for crayons, colored pencils, and folders. But watch your grocery store ads because they sometimes have good deals too. At Target, you can order online and pick up in store for free, which is a great deal!

Check Out Crazy 8’s deals on school Uniforms

Finally, it’s time to get back on track with your meal planning!

You should read my article Meal Planning Tips and Tricks first and then check out my Recipe Index to get some ideas on easy meals. I will be back to posting my weekly meal plan and deals the first week of school, so stay tuned for that!

*This post contains affiliate links, please see my disclosure policy here! 

Really Important Work

Sometimes I start to write things on here and I get interrupted by my children and never finish them. It is like I lose my train of thought and that is just it. Sometimes I write things on here and I am too scared too publish them. Sometimes I can’t write at all because there is just nothing there. Nothing. It’s as if I am all used up and I just don’t have anything left over. I am numb and I just cannot do anything else. I think I have been pretty numb off and on for a while now, so I find something that I think works for me until it just doesn’t anymore. Then I am numb again. And the cycle goes on and on. And I find myself wondering what does it all mean? What am I doing? What am I DOING? I remind myself that I am doing something so important right now, I am raising little humans, teaching them to be kind, loving and brave. Teaching them to do the right thing and to be nice at school. Helping them to learn about faith and not to be afraid to ask questions and seek out the answers. Teaching them to think for themselves and sometimes just teaching them to hold a pencil, or tie a shoe or even put their pants on. It is such important work, exhausting work, and sometimes it is work that leaves you feeling all used up and spit out. And sometimes it is wonderful when you watch your children do things that you taught them to do. And even though it didn’t seem like it at the time, they were listening to you!

Here is my problem: I can’t shake this nagging feeling that there is something out there that I should be doing. Something more than I am doing now. It is hard to shake the feeling that life has got to be more than this daily stuff. It just seems like there should be more important work than the daily grind, working, working until you must rest. I can’t figure out what it is that nags me constantly, so I come up with all of these ideas, and none of them really seem just right. There is ALWAYS a reason why those things aren’t going to work. Then I remind myself that I am doing REALLY IMPORTANT work. When you are raising children, sometimes the days are so long and hard that you can’t even see that you did something good today. Then you spend time beating yourself up over that moment you had when you yelled at your kid that day because he refused to put his shoes on. You wonder what you are doing wrong when your kids don’t listen to anything you say. But then you have a moment when things go right and you know that you aren’t completely screwing it up. And you have a moment of being so proud of your kids for their accomplishment no matter how big or small.

It is hard to hold on to those moments when your kids are screaming in the grocery store. It is hard to hold on to those moments when your 2 year old cries about everything all morning long and you can’t understand what she is saying! At the end of the day there is just NOTHING left. NOTHING! I always think that the mom’s with the babies and the toddlers and the preschoolers, were are in the thick of it, just trying to do the best we can without pulling our hair out. But it seems like every age comes with its own set of problems and you are just finished with one textbook and the whole thing changes completely. I don’t think we are ever going to know the exact right thing to do at the exact right time. You just have to do what you can, what you think is right and learn to forgive yourself when you screw it up. Perhaps it would be good if all of us mothers kept a journal just for those precious moments and we can pull it out when everything has gone to hell that day. I think it would help me for sure. Sometimes I really need those reminders, I think we all do, especially on the rough days. I know we always try to put our best side out there for everyone to see but I think sometimes it is just good to know that things don’t ever go perfectly for any mom. So if you run across a mom who is having a hard day, just give her a smile, one that says that it is going to be okay!

And one last thing, the other day I was at Target, with my giant buggy empty behind the van while I buckled the kids in and this very nice lady came and said ” If you are done with that, I will take this back for you. It has been a long time, but I have been where you are.” I told her thank you. But what I really meant was ” Thank you for noticing that I could use a little help. The fact that you stopped to help me means a lot to me. And honestly, it really makes my day better knowing that someone cares enough to take a moment to help make my day a little easier.” And maybe that IS the bigger more important thing : Seeing and noticing what is going on around me. Trying to help others. Trying to understand others. It doesn’t have to be anything big to make a difference to someone else. And then not only have you made someone else feel better, you feel better, and if you’re kids are watching, it is probably a better lesson than any speech you could ever give.

Getting A New Pair of Glasses

Next week I will turn 32, and I feel like I have been a mother forever at this point. Fourteen years ago, when I turned 18, it would be one week later that I would become a mother. From the time I found out I was pregnant with Alyssa, I never had a doubt that I would keep her, and from that day on I spent most of my time trying to learn how to be an adult. I learned to be strong and that I could make it through anything. Sometimes I feel like I have gone through these last 14 years always trying to be older to compensate for the fact that I was so young. It used to be so hard for me and really hurt my feelings when people would point out how young I looked/was. Once when I was in the mall (only about 4 years ago) this lady thought I was 16, and here I am walking with a couple of kids age 9 &4. Honestly, it kind of made me mad and hurt that this lady had seemed to go out of her way to point out that I must have started young.

When you start out your adult life as a newlywed, pregnant, and already out on your own it is sort of like being thrown into a pool to learn how to swim. Sure you have people telling you what to do, but it is ultimately you that has to swim so that you don’t sink. And along the way there is this constant pressure that you should be doing this or that. You should be all things at all times, so that is what you set your goals to. You will work full time to make sure that your kids had what you didn’t. You will stay at home with your kids and cook all the time and always be in a state of crafty, mommy bliss. And then came the social networks and the blogs and Pinterest and it is like High School : Mommy Edition. Who took their kids to Sunday School? Who cooked healthy awesome meals all this week? Who has the right political agenda? Who buys cute handmade clothes for their kids? Who had fun activities planned out for every day of Christmas break? Who made the best teacher gift? Who can make a wreath that looks just like that one they pinned? And not that there is anything wrong with these things that we post. The thing that is wrong is how we read them. Oh wow, I sure wish I had the time/energy/money to do that.Why do we do that to ourselves?

It is a learning process, this job of motherhood. You have to allow yourself to be and accept who you are. Being unapologetic about who I am scares the crap out of me and I suspect that hiding (besides my thyroid) it has helped lead to this state of anxiety and depression that I have been in lately. From the time I became an adult, I have been different. I wasn’t going to college or getting a job, I was changing diapers. And I was ashamed that I wasn’t doing things “the right way”. I have always looked young and when people would stare at me as I pushed a stroller, I felt shame. So I tried really hard to be this super awesome, mature and extremely responsible person, so people would think all of those things about me. But now I know that I am different and that is alright. I don’t have to pretend to be something that I am not. Some days I get a lot of things done around the house. Some days I get almost nothing done around the house. Some days I do fun awesome things with my kids and some days I just want them to just go play and leave me alone. Some days are really good and some days are really bad and some days are just eh!

This was what we looked like after grocery shopping on Saturday!

So today I am stepping out into the open to say this: There is no right or wrong way to do things. There is no system out there that works for everyone. Some days you are going to be Suzy homemaker and some days will leave you wishing for a convertible and a beach. Okay, a lot of days. So this is what I am trying so hard to do. Let go of any expectations that I have of myself and just try to be my best self every day. What that means is that I wake up and I have things that I know must be done that day. Like sending out the rent check, making sure there is food to eat, or making sure everyone at least has clean underwear! For now I am letting go of the lists and just doing what I can each day. If I get the house clean, or take the kids somewhere fun, do crafts and painting, don’t yell at anyone, don’t lose my patience, cook an awesome meal, then I had a good day. If I am unable to do anything that day and feel bitter then I have probably let the demons who tell me that I am not good enough in that day. And I need to give myself a break and stop being so tough and trying too hard.

So the pressure is off. No more unrealistic expectations.No more stress about being perfect or looking way too young to have a kid going into high school. Or worrying what people think about the fact that I have four kids. And I am not going to feel guilty about all of the things that I haven’t gotten done. I am going to try to feel good about the things that I have done and press on every day and try to be what I can be that day. I hope you will too and by the way I love all of the cute things that we all post on Facebook etc., because we are just excited that we did something cool and share worthy that day. But when you go through your posts instead of envy thinking that this woman must do this cool stuff all of the time, remember that she has really crappy days too. She posted this today because it was a positive thing and it made her feel good about herself and silently congratulate her because we all know how hard being a parent really is.