Florida Vacation Recap

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Last week we flew down to the Daytona Beach area for a nice little Florida vacation – just the three of us!  I love the beach and I want to make sure our little man loves the water like his Momma does.  Last year we took him when he was barely two months old.  He loved it!  Never once did he cry when he was in the water and he loved napping on the beach all day.  Then a month later we took him again, this time with J’s family.  Again, he loved it!  At least that’s what I’m telling myself – I mean, he was two and three months old.  So he slept a lot, but he didn’t cry a lot either.  I’ll consider that a win!

This year we kept it simple and it was just the three of us that went.  We also only had a few days to spend, so we left on Tuesday morning and came home Friday afternoon. Since we weren’t spending a full week we wanted to fly.  We thought a 2 hour one-way flight was a lot better than a 12 hour one-way drive.  I packed a diaper bag full of snacks, milk and the iPad to entertain our guy during the flight.  I was a little nervous traveling with milk through security, but it was a breeze.  All they did was wipe it down for explosives and then send me on my way.  ….Actually the first test on the way there came back positive (what?!!?) so the guy did it two more times and got negative both times.  Whew!  

The flight to Orlando went so smooth, our little guy slept the entire way.  He started fussing a little as we were preparing for take off so I fed him his bottle and he passed out.  He was out before our wheels ever left the ground.  Then he slept the whole flight and I had to wake him up when it was time to get off the plane.  Having a bottle of milked packed and ready to go was the key to such a great flight!

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When we got to Florida we drove the hour to our hotel room from the airport.  We stayed right on the beach, like right on the beach, which was awesome.  It also made it super handy for nap time and lunch time with our little guy.  We didn’t have to haul too much down to the beach each time.  When we got into town we immediately checked into our room.  It was only noon so we had the first day to run to the grocery store for a few things and then hit the beach for a bit.  

We planned to just buy breakfast for our little guy, a few snack items for the evenings and then quick lunch ideas.  Little guy was being his typical picky eater so he just ate whatever we were eating along with his pouches of food.

The second day we drove to Daytona Beach and toured the speedway.  J has always wanted to visit the racetrack and they offered a 90 minute tour for only $25 a person.  Considering the 30 minute tour was $18 a person, we thought the longer one would be well worth it.  We took the tram out onto the race track, got to stand on the finish line and then take pictures in the winner’s circle.  We even visited the hall of fame and saw last year’s Daytona 500 race car, which was pretty neat.  I’m not really a racing fan, but I’ll do anything for J and since it was a dream of his to see the speedway then that’s what we did!

Florida vacation, travling with a toddler, flying with a toddler, how to travel with a baby

Florida vacation, travling with a toddler, flying with a toddler, how to travel with a baby

Florida vacation, travling with a toddler, flying with a toddler, how to travel with a baby, Daytona speedway

Our boy did great during the whole tour.  He let Momma carry him around most of the time and then when he got too heavy he was happy to go to Daddy.  We did let him walk some of the inside stuff and the stops in the shade, but I have a fear of heights so anything that was too high or required stairs then we carried him.  Afterwards our little guy was exhausted, he napped in the car while we ordered sushi takeout and at in the parking lot…. the life of parents, right?  Order nice takeout you don’t get at home just to eat it in a Lowe’s parking lot while your baby naps. Oh well, it was still tasty!

Once he woke up it was off to play some mini golf by the beach.  We found this great place a block away from the water and the best part was we went on a Wednesday afternoon while school was still in session… no lines!  I beat J by 2 strokes, so it was a pretty great game!  We ended up saving about a $1 on our game just by not being prepared… win!  Okay, mini golf was 13.00 a person, so I handed J $27 thinking that would cover tax and left my wallet in the car.  The guy rang in our games and it was $27.64.  I was so close!  I told him I would run back to the car to grab another dollar and he somehow found a coupon to save us $1.  So weird how that magically appeared… hmmm.  I guess next time we play mini golf I’m going to try not having enough money to see if we can score any more deals!

The final day we spent at the beach and pool.  We played in the sand, let the waves crash into us and tried out our son’s new life jacket in the pool.  He wasn’t too crazy about the life jacket, but he needs to start getting used to it if he’s going to be swimming a lot this summer or on the boat.

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Now I want to share how we saved money on food while traveling.

I carried a diaper bag full of snacks, pouches of baby food (well enough to get us through the day) and a bottle of milk.  To keep the milk cold I packed a bottle cooler with an ice pack.  Getting through security was a breeze.  They just inspected the milk and felt the ice pack to make sure it was a real freezer pack.  No question on all of the snacks or baby food.  I even had a baggie full of Cheerios and they went through with no problems.  Honestly, I think I overreact when it comes to flying with food.  I know a  lot of people do it, but every time I’ve tried I end up having to throw it away in security.  So I must have done something right this time around.  

Next, we packed more snacks and pouches of food for our little guy in our checked bag.  I had baby food, snacks for our little guy, snacks for us.  All I did was place them in clear gallon storage bags so in case anything leaked or busted then it wouldn’t get over everything.  Before we packed I went to the store and found food.  I figured how much we would need for the whole trip and made sure to save room for it in the suitcase.  I knew the price of his snacks were going to be a lot higher than my local Aldi and I thought this would be a great way to save money.

We also only ate out once a day.  We went to a grocery store once we landed to get some easy lunch items.  Not every day did we eat lunch in the room, but we at least ate one meal a day in our room.  It probably saved us $60 or more by doing that each day.  We didn’t have to order food, buy drinks and pay for a tip.  We just loaded up on yummy foods we don’t typically eat at home and then used the microwave in the room.  For our one meal out we tried to find fun, local places since we don’t normally get fresh seafood all the way in Missouri.  

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Then it was time to come home.  The flight home wasn’t as smooth as the flight there.  Our little guy didn’t sleep at all… and all he wanted to do was play.  We thought we were being smart by finding a huge open area at the airport for him to play around in, but I think that just ended up making him more awake and ready to go.  Luckily we sat across from each other in aisle seats so we were able to let him walk back and forth between us.  He actually did really good for being trapped in the same spot for over 2 hours.  We kept him entertained with some snacks I packed in the diaper bag, the iPad and Daddy’s sunglasses.  During take off he drank milk so his ears wouldn’t hurt too bad and then during the landing he ate a pouch of baby food to help his ears.  I think the people around us were pretty grateful he was so well behaved compared to some of the other smaller kids on the flight.  We totally lucked out!

Road Trips With A Baby

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J and I love to go.  His family lives about 2 hours away, my sister is about 3 hours and the majority of our friends are in the opposite direction about another 3 hours away.  So we like to travel a lot on the weekends.  

We’re also the crazy people that prefer to take our three dogs with us on road trips.  With such a crazy bunch we’ve learned a few tricks to help us keep our sanity.  

Here’s how we take road trips with our little guy:

Prep your bottles before leaving the house.  Baby Boy was formula fed for the first year so I liked to have at least 3 big bottles filled with water and 2 small ones filled.  We bought these formula dispensers and they have been a lifesaver.  One is for 6 oz. bottles and the other one is for 2 oz. bottles.  Now he’s on milk so I use a small ice chest that is tall enough to hold his bottles.  I fill a bottle (or two) with milk and put it on ice for the road.  Now I don’t have to try to pour while driving and I can quickly grab a filled bottle to soothe a cranky child.

There has been (almost) nothing better than the day our little man could hold his own bottle.  It was a miracle!  Now when he gets hungry, we can just hand him his bottle, he feeds himself.  When he’s done he typically puts the bottle on the side of his car seat so I don’t have to worry about it leaking everywhere.  The only time I have to crawl in the back is when he wants actual food.  We use the pouches, but he hasn’t quite mastered feeding himself those yet.  

A few weeks ago I went to KC to visit a friend and her little boy who’s about the same age as our man.  Her little man can feed himself those pouches, but our guy hasn’t quite gotten it yet.  Anyway… we were driving back to her apartment and we thought they both had fallen asleep.  When we pulled in, I went to get my guy out and noticed this orange liquid all over him, the ceiling, the door, window, inside his car seat and the outside of his friend’s seat.  Yep, her little guy was being nice and handed my boy his pouch of food.  Of course he didn’t know what he was doing so he squirted food everywhere!  It was pretty funny and luckily hadn’t dried yet.  So with a quick wipe down with a bath towel, we were all good to go.

Now we’ve been working on feeding ourselves those pouches ever since that weekend.

Get your diaper bag ready.  I typically like to keep my diaper bag light.  I hate over packing it with things I know I will not need in the car.  So I keep it filled with just the necessities.  Bottles, formula, one toy, a change of clothes, plastic baggie filled with wipes, and 2-3 diapers.  Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?  But trust me, it’s not compared to how I used to pack a diaper bag.

I recently ordered a new diaper bag from Amazon and I’m in love.  It’s big enough to carry what we need, but it’s not too bulky that it drives me crazy.  I had been using a thirty-one bag I bought back in my early twenties, but with flying for our next beach trip I wanted a bag that would zip fully closed.  This bag doubles as a backpack, a messenger bag or has handles on top.  It also came with stroller clips, which has been a huge help.  I always hated shoving the bag in the bottom of the stroller.  I didn’t want my pre-filled bottles to leak or stuff to get unorganized. 

Pack the baby’s food items together in a separate bag.  The first trip we took I packed Baby Boy’s formula in our suitcase.  That was a big mistake!  I had to crawl all the way in the back, balance the suitcase on my leg so I could get the formula out.  I’ve now learned my lesson and keep all of the baby’s items in a separate bag that’s easily reached.  

In this bag I have a tub and soap to wash bottles, pack of formula, baby food, spoon, highchair cover for restaurants, table cover for restaurants, diapers, big pack of wipes, blanket, and a few more toys.  This bag usually goes behind the driver’s seat so the passenger can still reach it.

Baby Boy is usually pretty good in the car, but we’ve learned that it’s important to keep a seat open next time him just in case.  In a past trip we were headed to Springfield, which is about 3 hours away.  We were almost half-way when Baby Boy woke up starving.  He is so much like his Momma when he’s hungry.  There is no appeasing him until there is a bottle or food in his mouth.  J had to pull over along the side of the highway and I had to hop in the back.  Since I had his diaper bag ready to go with filled bottles that boy was happy within seconds and this Momma wasn’t shaken by the screams coming from our little man.  

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Keep a handful of small toys close.  When Baby Boy is bigger then obviously the toys will change, but for now we try to keep a few chew toys and ones that light up in the car.  I also tend to bring a few because sometimes he gets excited and will launch a toy across the car out of arm’s reach.  I started keeping a basket in the backseat that is filled with a few toys – light up ones, rattles, plush toys, and so on.  The basket keeps the toys together and gives them a place so the car doesn’t look a bit junky.

Bring a bath towel with you.  A towel works great if you have to use the backseat as an impromptu changing station or if you pull over at a not-so-nice looking gas station.  We’ve also had to use the towel one time I spilled a completely filled bottle all over the backseat.  Babies aren’t the only ones that make messes! Also, those towels work great on cleaning your car’s ceiling from baby food that gets squirted everywhere (see above for story).

Keep empty plastic bags or grocery sacks in the car.  I hate messes, especially in confined areas.  Nothing feels worse than having stuff everywhere.  So I try to keep things organized as best as possible. Typically I have an empty grocery bag we use for trash, one for dirty bottles and another for any spoiled clothes.  That way we can keep everything together and off the floor.  

Traveling with dogs is a lot easier.  We drive a bigger SUV so we put the dogs in the very back.  Years ago I was given or found (not sure which) a giant dog bed.  It actually fits perfectly in the back of the car.  Now we can put the pillow in the back and all three dogs are able to lay down and be comfortable.  

If we’re going long distance then we use the seat behind the driver for our suitcase and put the dogs’ food and bowls in the back with them.  That way they still have plenty of room to lay down and we still have an open seat in case one of us needs to be closer to our little guy.

If you’re planning on a road trip to a beach, checkout my beach tips post for all the great things to take with you!

What do you do on road trips with a baby?  Leave a comment letting me know, I love to learn more tricks!

 

Getting Your Toddler to Eat Fruit {Without Throwing a Fit}

I don’t know about your little one, but if they are anything like mine you have to be sneaky. I know my guy just turned one and some foods are still a little strange to him.

For instance… most fruits. He doesn’t care for the texture. But I can’t really blame him because I am the exact same way!

The texture of some fruits just throw me off. I like the flavor just fine, but the texture is a whole other story. I’ve been trying hard to get over my weird issue so that I don’t pass it on to my son.

But I’m not being successful. I’ve even eaten the fruit trying to show him it’s good.

For instance.. strawberries. I know it has to be a weird fruit to enjoy because I do not. I have tried it at least once a year since I was a little girl and I still can’t get over the way it feels.

The other day our boy was fighting me on eating strawberries. I cut them up into small pieces, mixed them with fruit and still nothing. He would literally pull the strawberry piece out of his mouth and drop it to the floor… while looking directly at me and laughing.

You can’t make me eat this, Mom!

I resorted to a new tactic. Nothing super scientific or even that clever, but at 7am one morning I was pretty proud of myself.  Here’s how I’m getting my toddler to eat fruit:

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I took the strawberry chunks, put it in my magic bullet with a little bit of milk and pureed them. Not super fine, still some chunks. Then I mixed it with his oatmeal.

Do you know what?

He loved it! He ate the whole bowl!

So the next morning, I added more strawberries and he gobbled that up too!

I knew I was on to something.

Every morning I’ve been taking his fruit and pureeing it a bit less. I’m trying to get him use to the texture of strawberries, blueberries, mangos and melons. If I make them too big, he’s sure to tell me with that direct stare as he feeds it to the dogs, but we’re working on it.

I thought it was pretty ingenious to blend them together with a little milk or water and each week just blend a little less. I’m hoping eventually he’ll like eating them just chopped into smaller pieces over pureed, but at least he’s eating fruit!

What’s one way you have gotten your little ones to eat healthier foods? I’ve been trying to get him more on table foods, but he’s not that interested in all of them yet.

What To Bring To Family Photos With Baby

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Did you know you can’t find a single post about what to bring to family photos?  Well, at least I couldn’t.  I searched Google and Pinterest.  All I found was different color combinations and poses to try, but nothing of what to bring.  You see, we were doing a quick family session followed by our little guy’s one year and smash cake session.  I knew I didn’t need to bring a lot of stuff with us, mainly because we were going to be walking around a local park.  But I wanted to bring stuff and leave in the car in case we needed it.  So I may have overpacked, but I am so glad I did.  

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I wanted to share with anyone else looking at doing family pictures what to bring to make the whole day more enjoyable.  If you’re organized then there will be no stressing and you’ll have everything right where you need it.  

Here’s what to bring to family photos and cake smash session:

For me

Extra shirt (in case little guy decided to spit up on me)
Hair brush
Powder
Lip gloss

For J

Extra shirt (again, just in case)

For Baby

Outfit for family photos
Outfit for one year session
Outfit for smash cake
Outfit to go home in
2 extra pairs of pants
Diapers
Wipes
Bottles
Blanket
Towel
Socks
Shoes

Just in Case

Lint roller
Money to pay for photographer (sounds like a no brainer, but I almost forgot it)
Bottle of water
Downy Wrinkle Releaser (I ironed all of our clothes, but wanted to make sure)

I created a PDF of the list above so you can download for FREE – What to Bring to Family Photos and Cake Smash Session.

We waited to put our little guy’s shirt on until we got to the park.  I didn’t want anything to get on it or mess it up on the drive. I went ahead and put him in his jeans for the pictures, but brought in extra pair in case we needed it.

We started the day at the park and took some family ones and a few single ones of our little one.  We are doing Gone Fishin’ as our theme, so we packed some overalls for his cake smash.  But while we were at the park, we went ahead and got him dressed in his overalls for a few cute pictures over a bridge.  Then it was off to the photographer’s home studio for the rest of the pictures.  After another quick outfit change we were ready for a new backdrop.  When it finally came time for the cake smash, our little man was started to get a little grumpy.  After a quick bottle, we were back in action!

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Our photographer and his wife were super nice, they let us give Baby Boy a bath after the cake smash was done so we didn’t have to try to use tons of baby wipes to clean off all the blue icing!  You may not need all of those outfits for your little one and honestly, I didn’t think we would use them all, but I’m glad we brought them.  

We were very lucky that Baby Boy napped for 2 hours right before we met the photographer.  I think that helped with him being in such a good mood for so long.  By the time we left it was passed his normal bedtime, but he pulled through and finished like a champ!

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What items do you pack for family photos?  We ended up using everything for our little guy except one extra pair of pants.  So I think my packing skills were pretty darn good!  We also didn’t need our extra shirts, but I’m still glad I had them.  Because I just know the moment I would have left them at home is when we would have gotten something on the ones we were wearing.

If you’re looking for a photographer in Southeast Missouri, I highly recommend Josh Deford and his wife Mary Beth.  They were a dream to work with and made the whole process super easy.  

Easiest Dinner Ever – Pizza Meatballs in the Crockpot

Affiliate Disclosure: I am grateful to be of service and bring you content free of charge. In order to do this, please note that when you click links and purchase items, in most (not all) cases I will receive a referral commission. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link. Your support in purchasing through these links enables me to continue to offer you lots of free stuff. Thank you!

slow cooker meal, meatballs in the slow cooker, easy dinner in the crockpot

Do you ever have one of those mornings where you’re about 10 minutes late on everything? You finally get the baby up, breakfast in his belly and your face put on just to realize your evening is going to be just as crazy. You need to go ahead and plan dinner – if you have dinner ready before you even get home from work that’s bonus points.

I have the easiest dinner ever for you. Pizza Meatball Subs. Watch the video below to see just how simple this family-loved dinner is. You can use the meatballs in spaghetti, make sub sandwiches, put on top of a pizza, or eat just as they are.

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All you need is a bag of frozen meatballs, jar of pizza sauce or pasta sauce, extra spices and a slow cooker.  Here’s the slow cooker (it’s even on sale!) I use and talk about in the video.  I love the fact it has a timer that kicks off the cook feature and automatically turns on the keep warm capability. 

Easy Clean Up Tip

If you haven’t seen these slow cooker liners then you’re missing out! You can get them on Amazon (because Amazon is Mom’s best friend!) for pretty cheap. I won’t use my slow cooker without them because clean up is a breeze. Just grab the bag and throw away the mess. No washing, no scrubbing!

There you have it, friends the easiest dinner ever! 

No lie!  I like simple, mistake-proof dishes that take little time to prep and even less time to clean up.  These pizza meatball are so versatile and if you don’t want pizza flavored then you can use pasta sauce or make your own tomato sauce with some yummy spices.  Really the variations are endless.  You can even make meatballs using BBQ sauce and grape jelly.

 

Why Mom Is Tired

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It’s no secret that Moms just don’t sleep much. No matter how if their little one is a newborn or a year old. Us Moms, we have a problem.

 

And I think I’ve finally found why mom is tired.

It’s the dang baby monitor. No matter how tired you are, no matter how sick you feel when that baby monitor glows or a sound comes from that little speaker, you’re wide awake.

For more mom videos checkout my Youtube channel

How To Save Without Walmart Price Matching

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Hi friends!  It’s been circulating online for about 6 months now how Walmart was going to start phasing out their price matching policy.  Well the time has come and Walmart has stopped price matching.  Gasp!  I know, I know.  Honestly, not all stores have stopped (yet); however, Walmart is being tight lip on which stores still allow price matching.  Price matching is how I saved the bulk of my money on groceries.  I don’t coupon.  Not because I can’t, but because I always felt it was a waste of time for my little family of three.  I am still adamant about not coupon clipping or printing off coupons online (unless it’s too good to pass up).  

What is price matching?

In case you aren’t familiar with what price matching is – it’s the best way to save money on groceries.  Your Walmart would typically match their competitor’s price on name brand items and even store brand to store brand items.  

When I heard how Walmart was going to be doing away with price matching I started developing a new strategy to help you save money on groceries.  

Price matching was always a double edge sword.  You saved money, but you had to deal with the mess that is Walmart, grumpy cashiers and impatient customers.  Part of me is relieved it’s over, but another part is a little sad because I liked the challenge and loved saving money.  

To combat the new policy backlash Walmart is supposed to be lowering their already low prices to help. I guess we’ll see how that turns out and if it’s really a savings, but until then I have a new plan to save money since Walmart stopped their price matching.

Here’s how to save without Walmart price matching:

Switch Stores

You can switch which grocery store you shop at.  Find a new one that can help save money without the hassle of price matching.  Simple – I plan on switching stores for most of my day-to-day grocery items.  I  started shopping at Aldi lately and I’ve noticed a huge savings on most of the essential items that my family needs.  My local Aldi doesn’t carry everything we need so I know there will be trips to Walmart or Walgreens in my future, but for the bulk of my items I plan at shopping at Aldi. 

Shop Online

The other option is start buying items online. I’ve started adding is ordering more from Amazon. Shopping on Amazon is by far the easiest and most convenient for our family. I use the Subscribe and Save for our dog food, diapers, toilet paper and wipes.  As I’ve learned when we need to replace items, I’ve added them to our Subscribe and Save too.

Money Saving Apps

You can utilize money saving apps to rack up extra money for fun trips, purchases, and anything else you want.  I use my money saving apps like the Walmart Savings Catcher And Ibotta. The savings catcher app doesn’t quite price match what I consider good deals. You have to shop name brand and it has to be on sale at a store within the vicinity of the Walmart you shop at. But honestly I feel that it only compares my shopping to stores like Walgreens and CVS in my hometown.  I don’t think it compares to the actual grocery stores nearby. 

Since I plan on stopping most of my Walmart shopping I won’t be using this app nearly as much. I use the Walmart Savings Catcher app when I shop at Walmart because it’s convenient.  I already have the Walmart receipt and it only takes 5 seconds to upload it, so why not? I don’t get a ton of money from the app and I usually try to save as much as possible to use for Christmas; however, it’s not typically enough to pay for my entire Christmas budget. That’s when I use Ibotta to help pick up the slack.

I do plan on using Ibotta with my Aldi shopping, but I’ve noticed a serious lack of rebates available from them.  It’s a little disappointing, but I can’t complain too much since I’m getting such a good deal in-store.  I also know I won’t be able to do all of my shopping at Aldi so it’s nice to know I’m still going to be getting some savings from the other local grocery stores.

Check Sales and Meal Plan

The third option I’m going to be doing is checking the sales ads. I do meal planning for two weeks to help us save money, so by having a plan with a grocery list of what I need then I’ll be able to see which stores have specific items on sale. I won’t mind going into multiple stores since I’ll have a plan for my grocery list and know which stores to buy which items then I can save time and money. Because let’s be honest price matching at Walmart though it was nice and saved money it could be time-consuming if you had a lot of items with a lot of price matches and you had a grumpy cashier.

What are you doing without Walmart’s price matching?  Leave a comment and let me know, I always want to learn new ways to save money.

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If you’re looking for a great tool to help keep your family on budget, then check out out my budget spreadsheet.  Each month is laid out right in front of you where you can keep track of what you budget and what you actually spend. Now you’ll know in real time how you’re doing each month.

Happy Birthday, My Love

I wanted to take a few minutes to wish this man a very happy 31st today.  This man has unselfishly loved me from the very beginning… all of me.  Even my messy ways and how I can seemingly go into a panic about anything.  He is the calm to my storm.  When I’m too tired, he picks up the slack without even being asked.  This man.  He’s a keeper.

Thank you J for being the best husband and the best Dad to us.  I will spend the rest of my days knowing how loved I am (even when you don’t say it all the time).  Your actions prove it.  

Let me tell you about this man.  He makes our little guy laugh the deepest belly laughs I’ve ever heard.  He’s the fun Dad who let’s you jump on the couch (of course he’s right there with his arms ready to catch).  He’s the neighbor who starts the weekly mowing rounds because everyone else follows his lead when it comes to cutting the grass.  He picks up toys and prepares bottles each night while I gently rock our little guy to sleep.  He turns the TV off when I’m too tired to keep watching knowing that the sound will keep me awake.  He sends me random Snaps through out the day (some I don’t want to see… ahem filters with women’s faces).  He changes all of the light bulbs in the house and takes the trash to street each week.  He helps with dinner on nights I’m too tired or too forgetful to lay anything out.  He helps with laundry, dishes and cleaning.  

This man.  I could go on and on about the things he does for his family, but who would have that much time to read it?  Plus, he might be embarrassed if I kept going.

Happy birthday J!  You deserve so much on this special day!  Don’t worry – Baby boy, Bud and I will be patiently waiting to see you walk through the door tonight!  

DIY Mother’s Day Gift or Birthday Gift

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DIY mother's day gift, DIY birthday gift for mom, DIY photo gift

I wanted to treat my Mom to something special for her birthday and Mother’s Day last year.  I know, I know I can’t believe I am just now getting around to sharing what I did last year! #momissues

Our little guy was right around a month old, I was still struggling with the recovery from my c-section, I was tired and learning to adapt to this whole motherhood thing.  My Mom was great (a little overwhelming at times, but what new Grandma isn’t), she had really helped with the Baby and there were a lot of days she would just bring me lunch and sit with me for an hour.   When it came time to start thinking of Mother’s Day and her birthday, which is just a few days later, I knew I wanted to do something special for her.  Our son is my parents’ first grandchild and they were over the moon with excitement for him, so I knew he had to be a big part of her gift.  That’s why I wanted to create a DIY birthday gift for her.  

Honestly this gift can be created for a birthday, Mother’s Day or even Father’s Day gift.  Heck, it would even work for Grandparents’ Day.

J and I were trying to mind our budget, like always.  And with medical bills and some home projects our money was pretty tight.  I had to put on my thinking cap and come up with something creative that wouldn’t break the bank.

DIY birthday gift

I headed to Hobby Lobby and came across this pretty picture frame that holds three 5×7 images.  Luckily it was on sale and was 50% off.  After taxes I paid a little over $13.00 for it.  You can find the exact same frame on Amazon for less than $16.00 if it’s just easier to order one.  I typically buy everything on Amazon, but for those last minute items I tend to go shopping in-person.  

Once I saw the frame, I decided I would do something similar to my DIY Father’s Day gift I created for J.  I created a simple image using canva.com.  They had the heart image under the elements heading and under the shapes tab.  I then added his name, the month and year to remember when it was done.  

DIY mother's day gift, DIY birthday gift idea

I came home and used the same ink pad that I used in J’s gift that was leftover from our wedding thumbprint tree guestbook.  I simply pressed his feet into the heart by overlapping his heel prints.  I let it dry then placed it into the center frame.  I used plain printing paper so there wouldn’t be a problem with the thickness when I tried to close up the back. 

I then headed onto walgreens.com to upload a few pictures.  I of course googled a coupon code and found one for 40% off.  I ended up paying less than $3 for the images.  I placed them in the remaining slots and that was it.

DIY mother's day gift, DIY birthday gift for mom, DIY photo gift

I updated the image so feel free to download the DIY Mother’s Day PDF or click the image above to print. 

So for right around $17.00 I created a really sweet and memorable Mother’s Day gift.  My Mom loved it and she still has it proudly showcased in her home.  I have plans to do personalized gifts for both grandparents every year – that way they can get gifts that show off how their grandson is growing and I know they’ll be gifts they want to have around.  

How to Create A Simple Budget

one tip to create a simple budget, how to create a simple budget, budgeting made easy

Did you know everyone has a budget? Yes, everyone.

Even you have a budget. Even the anti-budgeter next door has one.

What you spend is your budget. Whether or not your write it down and keep track of it.

Your income less your expenses each month is your budget. It can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it.  I’m sharing my tip on how to create a simple budget.

The people that are turned off by budgeting are the ones that tend to overcomplicate things. I’m sharing my one tip that can help turn you into the pro-budgeter you’ve dreamed of.

You can watch the video or keep reading.

The easiest tip for sticking to and creating a simple budget is by tracking your money. Not as you spend it, but before you spend it. Before you write your rent check, swipe your debit card or ACH your car payment. You need to track your money on paper (or spreadsheet) first.

We use Google Sheets as our check register, but I take it one step further by pre-tracking our monthly expenses. I know about what day each bill will hit, when our paydays will be and when I need to go grocery shopping.

I’m going to assume you probably know all of those things too. You run your house pretty smoothly and you know when the baby will need more milk and diapers, and when you will need more toilet paper.  It’s a mom thing for sure.  J has no idea when we’re about to run out of food and when the baby is going to need more wipes.  But I do.  Just like you do.

Most of us moms and wives are pretty up on logistics when it comes to our household. So I take the knowledge I have about grocery shopping, loan payments, rent, and daycare costs then write it down on my check register.

I start with the first of each month then I write down the date of each bill, payment or expense. I add in any income and the day they will be deposited into my account (I love direct deposit and don’t have to think too much about it). I subtract any expenses from income to keep a running total. Now I know on the 20th of each month how much I’m going to have after all the bills have cleared and before I get paid on the 30th.

For instance, if you look at your check register on the 20th and see you have two more bills that come out around the 23rd then you will know on the 20th how much money you can spend until you get paid again.

Does this make sense?

No more guessing. No more cutting it too close.

You know on the 20th if you need to be eating at home the next 10 days so you have enough money to put gas in your car.

This one tip on how to create a simple budget – pretracking your expenses – has saved my family over and over again.  

There are no more surprises when it comes to our bills.  Nothing gets overlooked and you won’t have to write a hot check hoping it doesn’t get cashed before payday.  

If you want to download the budget template my family uses, check it out. It has helped so much on keeping us on track and allowing us the ability to see where our money is going. No more guessing or not knowing.

If you’re looking for a great tool to help keep your family on budget, then check out out my budget spreadsheet.  Each month is laid out right in front of you where you can keep track of what you budget and what you actually spend. Now you’ll know in real time how you’re doing each month.