8 Great Things About Your Kids Being in Middle School

The middle school years often get a bad rap. I am probably biased because I taught sixth grade and really enjoy this age group, but there are plenty of pretty darn cool aspects to this stage of childhood. Sure adolescents can be moody, but so can 2-year-olds. At least the adolescents can handle all their own bathroom needs. So if you are about to embark on this phase of parenting, don't despair. There are plenty of perks:

1. Movie Drop Off
I am quite happy to relinquish the duty of watching animated 3D films. Sure I have fond memories of toddlers spilling popcorn and screaming, but it is really liberating to simply drop a group off at the mall to see a movie. I experience a little tug at the heart strings as I watch my daughter turn to wave and test her independence, and then I exit the parking lot with a little extra time in my day to get things done.

2. Game Night
Your kids can play games you enjoy and that actually challenge your brain. We have fun playing spades, dominos, Scattergories and many more. It's fun to see your kids develop into young adults with the capacity to beat you and your spouse at cards.

3. PTA (or lack thereof!)
It is impressive how middle schools seem to get along without much volunteering on the part of the parents. I loved working the book fair, auction, carnival, etc. at the elementary school. Don't get me wrong, I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to be involved. Yet it's pleasant to move beyond that and find time for other things.

4. The Nap
The nap is beautiful due to its rarity. And I don't mean you taking a nap, although that can certainly be nice. Every once in a blue moon, the demands of puberty (and perhaps a slumber party the night before) will be a little too much, and your middle schooler will fall asleep on the couch. What an amazing opportunity to watch them snooze and remember the sweet young child they used to be.

5. Date Night
It's your anniversary, and your spouse would like to take you out to a nice dinner. Guess what? You don't need a babysitter! Go ahead and make those reservations, order pizza for the kids, and celebrate your marriage.

6. Activity Focus
I think there was one school year when between the two kids we participated in soccer, softball, dance, piano, Girl Scouts, gymnastics, and volleyball. It's fun to try all these things, but it's also great to see your kid pick a favorite activity and really devote themselves to it. I have been pleased to see the dedication and determination it takes to set goals and achieve them coming alive in my children.

7. Vacations
Travel with teens and tweens takes less work. They should be able to pack for themselves with a few reminders, and they can handle their own luggage. You will not find yourself wide awake in a dark hotel room at 8:45 p.m. because the kids needed to go to bed. Your middle school travel companions can make meaningful contributions to the dinner conversation, and hopefully they won't have a meltdown if chicken nuggets aren't on the menu.

8. Holidays
I would be lying if I said I didn't miss the sheer excitement of Christmas morning after Santa arrived. But there is also relief in letting go of all that stress, and focusing on special time together. I find great joy in baking holiday treats with my girls, in watching them engage with little kids while giving out candy on Halloween, and in hearing them describe what they are thankful for during the Thanksgiving prayer.

This middle school journey flies by quickly. High school is nipping at your heels. Amidst the hormones, pimples and sometimes unexplained grumpiness, there is your adorable child. Cherish her and these crazy days.


Kenny Chesney Announces Huge 2018 Tour with Thomas Rhett and Old Dominion

If you missed Kenny Chesney on the road this summer-- because he didn't tour-- the wait is almost over. Chesney just announced his massive Trip Around The Sun Tour that's hitting stadiums across the country and he's bringing Thomas Rhett, Old Dominion and Brandon Lay with him.

Chesney explained, "to say I missed the stage would be an understatement. But, not just the stage-- I miss the energy, the spirit, the passion of No Shoes Nation and everything you bring to the shows and my life."

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Security Guard Jesus Campos, The First Person To Encounter The Las Vegas Shooter, Described His Experience To Ellen

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George Strait Returns To Las Vegas With Two Additional Dates In 2018

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"We said from the beginning that we would listen to the fans and follow what they want," George said. "Fan support is just as strong now as it was when we started; and we are responding to that interest by adding shows in 2018."

Opening the two Vegas shows will be friends Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen, who both joined George for his concert at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio to benefit Rebuild Texas Fund—a fund built to help the many families and communities across Texas that have been devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

You'll have two more chances to catch George on the road in 2018. The Texas native previously announced two shows including June 3 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas and June 1 and 2 at BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla.

George performed six sold-out shows at T-Mobile Arena in 2016 as part of his "Strait to Vegas" exclusive concert series, extending his limited engagement into 2017 with an additional 10 shows.

Tickets go on sale Friday, Oct. 27 at www.GeorgeStrait.com.

This Facebook Group Proves The Mailman Is One Of Your Dog's Best Friends

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Florida Georgia Line, Jerrod Niemann, Love and Theft and More Team Up To Fight ALS With Benefit Concert

Love and Theft's Stephen Barker Liles is calling on some of his country music friends, including Florida Georgia Line and Jerrod Niemann, to join forces at the Shine for Susie ALS Benefit Concert on Dec. 4 at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium.

Stephen, who will be hosting the event, knows what it's like to live with a loved one fighting ALS. His mother, Susie Burchett, was diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease earlier this year. Also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a disease that causes the death of neurons which control voluntary muscles.

"I've had the privilege of helping with many charities through the years, but when the cause touches your life, it changes everything," said Stephen Barker Liles. "When my mother was diagnosed with ALS in March of this year, I was devastated. But I also felt called to make a difference to help her and others through my musical platform. I'm incredibly grateful for some of my dear friends who are joining me to shine light through our music and bring hope to millions."

The event will include performances from Love and Theft, Florida Georgia Line, Jerrod Niemann, Craig Campbell, Canaan Smith, Trent Tomlinson, The Warren Brothers, and Stevie Monce.

Shine for Susie ALS Benefit Concert was formed as a partnership between The ALS Association of Tennessee and the Burchett and Liles Family to raise funds in the fight against ALS.

Tickets go on sale Oct. 20 through Ticketmaster and the Ryman box office. Tickets are $125, $75 and $55.


Jessie And Eric Decker's "Car Karaoke" Is A Cringeworthy Attempt At The Real Thing

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9 Halloween Costumes You Can Put Together Based on Country Music Songs with Things You Already Own

Halloween is a weird holiday for a single adult or an adult without kids. Really, Halloween should be slightly odd for anyone not young to trick-or-treat or anyone not invited to a super cool costume party. But, of course, just in case, you should always have a costume in mind. It's helpful if the costume can be put together with things already in your home. So, why not combine things you already own with one of your favorite country music songs?

9 Halloween Costumes You Can Put Together Based on Country Music Songs with Things You Already Own:

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[Listen] One Country Podcast: Las Vegas, Jason Aldean, And A Way Forward

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Blake Shelton

Blake Shelton Presented Kelly Clarkson With the Power of Women Award with the Absolute Sweetest, Most Innappopriate Speech Ever

If you didn't know-- Blake Shelton and Kelly Clarkson have been friends for a really long time. Right now, Kelly's husband, Brandon Blackstock is Blake's manager, but their history is actually much deeper.

Blake was on hand at Variety's Power of Women Awards to present his old pal with the honor and in typical Blake fashion he delivered a really sweet, hilarious speech. Blake, at first, did allude to a few moments he's spent with Kelly that he would love to talk about, but shouldn't.

Instead, he talked about what Kelly is going to be like as a coach next season on "The Voice." And, of course, he veered left. And then right. And then left again.

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