Monthly Archives: September 2017

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DIY Dog Emergency Kit

DIY dog emergency kit

With three dogs running around our house at all times, J and I have finally learned what we need to have on hand.  You see, if all of our dogs were like our sweet Maggie then we would have no problems.  They would sleep under the bed all day, eat their dinner like a good girl and then cuddle up next to you on the couch.  

DIY Dog emergency kit

dog emergency kit

But the other two dogs….

Well let’s just say they are the complete opposite of our Maggie girl.

….oh Tiny and Bud.  Those two are a bit crazier than most.  They run, they tackle each other, they slide into the door and then they run around outside.  So it’s inevitable that these two would get hurt.  We like to keep a dog emergency kit on hand to be prepared for those little emergencies.

One of the last time we left town, we dropped the dogs off with this amazing lady who takes care of them.  Each dog had a great time and she even spent time with Bud on doing some training.  He was doing great.  I got to work with him and see which command words worked for him.  Then I took all three dogs home.  We get in the door and I realized Tiny was missing her collar.  Normally that isn’t a big deal until I noticed Bud was expelling the neon green collar from a not so pretty place.  Then he started choking and coughing, a lot.  We rushed him to the vet and after a few X-Rays we learned it was in small pieces and nothing was wrapped around any organs.  He would naturally expel the collar.  Yay!

Okay, okay so that story really had nothing to do with a DIY dog emergency kit and why you need one, but it is a reminder to always pay attention to your dog.  I’m adamant about making sure everything is okay and their habits are running like clockwork.  Bud is still a bit young and has a lot of learning to do.  He’s not afraid of anything, which is not always a good thing.  He’s more curious than anything.  So with him, I’m especially careful when he starts acting a little different.  

The little emergencies are the ones we can treat at home.  A nip here, a scratch there, etc.  I talk so great about Maggie, but when she was a young pup she got into a whole brand new container of birth control pills.  Plastic, foil wrapping, pills and all.  I called the emergency vet clinic and luckily because she was female and I could find majority of the pills they weren’t too worried about the pill ingestion.  They knew and warned me it would make her sick, but not fatal.  They were more concerned about the consumption of plastic and foil.  So I had to induce vomiting.  Thankfully they talked me through it and all was fine, nasty, but fine.  

Around our house, we see quite a bit of these little accidents, especially in the summer.  Something about the warmer weather has our dogs stir-crazy so they end up outside a lot more.  We put together this easy to use dog emergency kit that has really paid off.

Here’s what we have in our DIY dog emergency kit:

  • antiseptic wipes
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • gauze pads
  • medical tape
  • self-cling bandage wraps
  • q-tips
  • cotton balls
  • disposable gloves
  • tweezers
  • phone numbers to your local veterinarian’s office.  Ours even has an after hours line for emergencies, that’s in there too
  • ASPCA poison-control center hotline, which is 1-800-426-4435
  • leash – we use the freebie we received from the vet awhile back.  It’s not the nicest, but with the loop that goes around the neck, it’ll be the easiest to use in case of an emergency.

I went to the Humane Society’s website and found this article.  Luckily, I had most of what they were recommending on my list.  They do have other items too that would be great to have on hand.

dog emergency kit

I would highly recommend creating a dog emergency kit for yourself to have.  I mean, with some adjustments this would work for your cat, too.  We just don’t have any cats – darn allergies!  These little guys can fit nicely into a small plastic tote and then be sealed, labeled and stowed away until they are actually needed.  

I would also suggest setting a reminder to go through your kit each year.  Throw away anything that is out of date and replace any used or old product.  I have a alert in our Google Calendar for each January to go through ours.  

Why We Have So Many Different Bank Accounts

multiple bank accounts, why we have 6 accounts, cash budgeting, cash envelope, the easier cash envelope, dave ramsey, meredithrines, merelynne

Today is the day. I’m finally going to explain why we have so many different bank accounts. 

I shared this post not too long ago and I received so many questions about how we handle our family’s finances.  Then I thought I was going to clarify everything with this video about how we follow the easier cash envelope system, but I think I just got you even more confused.  

For that I’m sorry. I didn’t want to sound too complicated or overwhelming.  That was never my intention.  Because you should easily be able to control your money.  When you find a system that works for your family then it’s golden.  I had questions about how we manage our banking, but I didn’t answer them very clearly.  

Apparently the number of bank accounts we have is abnormal. Like, most people don’t get it. I wanted to explain maybe a little bit better to why we have so many different bank accounts and how we use them. I decided to make it a lot easier to understand once and for all.  I created another video.  

Don’t worry!

This video is a lot more visual to make it clear.  I don’t know why I didn’t do this the first time around.  I am such a visual person I should have realized this is what’s needed.  Even in high school, college and even during my Certified Financial Planner classes I prefer to watch videos or the professor’s lecture while I take notes.  For some reason I understand so much more when I can visualize when I heard it or what my notes looked like.  Reading from a book or post doesn’t really do much for me.  

I created some helpful diagrams and pictures to make the whole process of all different bank accounts make sense.

Now before I get into the video, please note that this is how our family handles money.  This does not mean your family should adopt what we do.  It’s just another way to organize finances and keep track of spending.  If what you’re doing works for you then that is great!  The traditional way – 1 checking and 1 savings was not working for us.  I found something that kept us within our budget while making it easy to follow.  

Remember the reason you want to have a control on your finances is

You need to control your money. Don’t let your money control you. (Click to tweet)

Watch the video online or below and leave a comment with any questions you have.  I’ll be happy to answer what I can.

What do you think? Does this make more sense now? If the way your family is handling money isn’t working then don’t be afraid to switch it out.  My advice though – whatever you try you must commit to at least 60 days to work out any kinks.  Now the doesn’t mean don’t make adjustments along the way.  We’re still making adjustments to the way we handle our money.  However, you have to be committed to not make any major, drastic changes for at least 2 months.  That is a good time frame to pay bills a few times, put money into savings, and to work on your budget. 

Maybe the best solution is to think outside the box when it comes to getting ahead.

Need More Help?

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. 

Easy Hair Ideas for Moms

Affiliate Disclosure: 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. 

easy hair ideas for mom, hair for mom, easy hair styles, meredith rines, merelynne

How do you wear your hair most days?  I have a few tried-and-true methods that I rotate through.  I like changing up my look for work.  I think it’s a little something extra I can do when it comes to my appearance for client appointments.  To me, hair is an extension of the day’s outfit so I like to make sure it looks somewhat presentable. Plus, I was never one to shy away from a bold hair look.  Even though I probably should have had a professional’s opinion on some of my looks back in high school, but that’s for another post!  

For me, I’m all about ease and speed.  I don’t want to spend too long in the bathroom getting ready in the morning.  I only have so much time before our little one wakes up and then it’s time for a quick breakfast before running out the door.  Here are my go to hair ideas for moms:

Messy Bun

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Most days, my hair is in a messy bun like so.  I found this great video tutorial on how to do the perfect messy bun.  I’m lucky that my hair is long enough that I only require two hair ties and about two bobby pins.

Down and natural

easy mom hair, easy hairstyles, hair for busy moms

Before my son was born I had perfectly straight hair.  No need to ever straighten it!  Like ever.  Then with all the pregnancy hormones running through my body, my hair decided to revolt. Now it’s wavy in the front and curly (like whoa!) in the back.  If my hair is down this is how I wear it 9 times out of 10.  It’s very little maintenance, which is perfect for busy mornings.

Down and straight

easy mom hair, easy hairstyles, hair for busy moms

On days my son sleeps in then that usually gives me just enough time to straighten my hair.  I have so much stinking hair that it takes a lot of arm strength, time and patience to get this hair straight.  I would say it takes me about 45 minutes to an hour to dry my hair and then straighten it.  A lot of days my hair is straight are the days I washed my hair the night before so I just have to spend about 20 minutes or so straightening it.  Here is a similar straightener to the one I use.  I love it because I can adjust the temperature on it.  It really comes in handy with all this hair!

Half-Up

easy mom hair, easy hairstyles, hair for busy moms

Once I straighten my hair, I don’t typically wash it for at least 2 or 3 days.  It sounds gross, but my hair doesn’t get greasy.  I think it’s because it’s so thick and I have so much of it.  Washing it every day actually dries it out and makes it frizzy, so I try to avoid that.  But usually on day three I like to wear it half back since I tend to touch the hair around my face a lot more and then it starts to look a little oily.

Styled

 

braid hair tutorial

Before my son was born I created this twisty braided half-up look.  I really loved it and I have even started doing it a lot of mornings before work.  It doesn’t take too long and it doesn’t have to be perfect.  

What are some of your quick and easy ways to wear your hair?  I am always looking for something new to try, especially if it doesn’t have to be perfect!

Spending $100 Per Person On Groceries | Eating Out Budget | Budget Q&A

Do we really spend $100 per person on groceries, What is our eating out budget, Do we meal plan every night, What do we order from Amazon to save money, budget questions, budget Q&A, meredith rines, merelynne

We have been enjoying the cooler temps that have started to reach Southeast Missouri.  My family and I have played at the park, went for walks, and enjoyed every moment outside.  So we’ll be headed to the pumpkin patch to play in the kidzone (well our son will play) and to make our way through the corn maze.  I tried talking J into going last weekend, but he turned me down.  Apparently it just didn’t feel enough like fall to him.  I guess I would have to agree, but I so love the pumpkin patch!

I wanted to pop in and share with you my first attempt at a budget Q&A.  I have received a few emails, messages, texts and DM’s from readers asking a few questions.  So I sat down to answer your questions that seem to surround about groceries, order supplies for our family and eating out.  I am going deep in to each question to make sure I get it all covered.  Let’s. Do. This.

Here are the questions I’m answering just for you – you can check the time stamp to fast forward to what you’re interested in:

Do we really spend $100 per person on groceries each month? 0:37

How much is our eating out budget for the month? 3:47

Do we meal plan every night? 9:07

What do we order from Amazon? 11:57

You can watch over on youtube or below, but make sure to keep reading for more helpful tips.

How To Save On Groceries?

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How To Set Your Perfect Grocery Budget

How To Set The Perfect Grocery Budget, how to set your budget, grocery budget help

What do we order from Amazon each month?

amazon is mom's best friend

Meal Plan To Save Money

how i meal plan, free meal planner template

 

How To Streamline Your Life

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What does streamline your life actually mean?  

Moms, we are busy all the time.  The only down time we get is when we finally go to bed for the night, but it can easily be interrupted with a teething toddler.  Us Moms get no breaks.  So for me I feel like we have to get our stuff together so we can make it easier on ourselves, and our families.  For me that would be streamlining every piece of my life.  

We’re laying in bed and trying to fall asleep, but our mind is going a mile a minute.  We’re replaying everything that happened that day – conversations, errands, tasks, feelings, and more.  We start thinking about the next day and things we need to get done, but somehow we now realize we forgot to do something.  So we tell ourselves to move it up our mental to-do list for the next day.  Hoping that we remember, but knowing tomorrow is going to be crazier than today was.

Mom life is hard.  Really hard.  

As a mom we put way too much pressure on ourselves and hardly ever ask for help.  Then when we’ve reached our limit we have a breakdown.  For me, I know I’ve reached my limit when I feel like my house is suffocating me.  I’m not sure what it is about it, but maybe it’s because I can immediately control my house.  When I feel like every other aspect of my life is out of control, the house is something I can get in charge of.

Moms wear too many hats – mom, boo-boo kisser, chef, cleaner, manager, logistics, accounting, pet wrangler, gift buyer, personal shopper, errand girl, career woman, friend, wife, sister, daughter, volunteer…

Seriously, I could keep going, but you get the gist.

One thing that has helped me take back control of the hectic areas of my life is by streamlining my life.  Now I will say I am not perfect at this.  Some days are better than others.  Some days are bad.  Some days I feel like I’m drowning at work and come home to too many tasks to get done before bed.  

But I wanted to share with you the few things you can do in less than an hour to really help you streamline your life.

Auto Pay

Setup your monthly bills to automatically come out of your checking account.  Doing this doesn’t take too long.  All you have to do is sign in online to your accounts, click the auto-pay or link your checking button.  Go through the steps, tell them which date you want it to run (most of the time it’ll be the deadline, a day before or you can pick the date), and then setup the amount (minimum payment, full balance, full bill, or specific amount).

The auto pay feature is amazing! You no longer have to worry about sending in your bill on time, you don’t have to worry about finding a postage stamp or running to the store to buy some.  If you have 6 bills a month that need to be mailed, you are spending close to $3 a month on stamps ($0.46 x 6 bills = $2.76).  Don’t have to worry about buying checks or envelopes so in the end it will save you.  

Auto Order

This goes along with the post I wrote about why Moms love Amazon Subscribe & Save feature.  You can order almost anything you consume on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.  We have ordered or do order diapers, wipes, dog food, dog treats, toilet paper, protein powder, ready to drink breakfast shakes, and more.  All you have to do is go to Amazon’s website, find the items you use on a regular basis and then setup it for the Subscribe & Save feature.  Amazon will give you a discount for ordering something automatically.  Plus, if you order 5 or more items (separate items) in a month then they will give you an even bigger discount.  

Once you figure out how often you go through diapers, laundry detergent, or dog food (or whatever you use then you can just let Amazon know.  I like ordering larger and heavier items from Amazon because that means I don’t have to lug it into a grocery cart or into my car while wrangling my toddler.

Setup Reminders in Your Calendar

I am a huge fan of Google.  I use Google for just about every aspect of our lives.  It hosts our check register, to do-lists, and our calendar.  What’s great about Google is you can share it with everyone in your family.  So you know when you husband’s appointments are and he knows when yours or the kids’ appointments are.  You can keep organized for dinners at home or nights you have plans out.  

But what I love the best about Google is the reminder feature.  You can setup a reminder for just about anything – dogs’ heart worm pills, changing the air filter in your house, doctor appointments, and paying a bill (if you aren’t able to do auto pay).  You can even use the reminders for every day tasks – empty the dishwasher, start laundry (or switch laundry, which is something I tend to forget a lot), your kid’s medicine, finish a blog post, and anything else you can think of.

You can read how I setup Google calendar to work for us, but you can really turn it into anything you want.  

Google To Track Your Spending

Going along with how Google is used in almost every aspect of our lives, we use it to track our spending.  Actually, we use it as our check register.  It’s on Google Drive so no matter where I am or how little time I have in between errands or a toddler throwing a tantrum because he can carry around the grocery store’s broom (yep!), I can quickly log into our check register, add in the expense and update our total.  Now I know how much I have in our checking account after all of our bills are accounted for.

E-Mail Over Paper

One of the biggest sources of clutter and just a feeling of overwhelm is all of the paper we get in our mail.  By simply switching to online statements, you no longer are inundated with financial stress on a regular basis.  We schedule time in our Google calendar to go through bills, make sure auto-pays are setup (in case we need to change the amount), update our monthly budget and so on.  It doesn’t take long and by having statements online then I can simply do our weekly money date from anywhere.  

Plus, some companies even charge $1 for sending paper statements.  You could be saving yourself some money just by switching to online statements.  You’ll get a monthly e-mail as a reminder letting you know your statement is ready to be viewed.  Then you can schedule time to look at all of your bills at one time.  You can create a plan to tackle each payment because you’ll be able to see the whole picture instead of just one payment at a time.  

Use a Budget

It’s no secret that I am a big fan of budgets.  I talk about them all. the. time.  Once you find a template you like (you can check out the one I created) then it makes it so easy to keep up with.  All you have to do is spend a few minutes each week updating and then you will know exactly how you’re doing.  I know for us, not knowing our money situation is a huge stress point.  I can feel the weeks that I don’t keep up with it because I start to feel like I am suffocating and every task is just too much.  

You’ll worry every time you buy groceries or go out to eat because you just don’t know how you’re doing.  So you tend to spend less, then run out and end up having to make a second trip to the store – so in the end you spend more.  If you would just take a few minutes to create a budget and then consistently update it you’ll have a more relaxed mentality around money.

What are some tools you use to streamline your life? Leave a comment below letting us know!

10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Younger

10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Younger, knew when younger, advice to self, self advice

I wanted to switching things up a bit today.  I am sharing a short video with the top 10 things I wish I knew when I was younger.  Trust me when I say I could have kept going with this list… like whoa!  I have learned a lot, I’ve made plenty of mistakes and I know it’s just the beginning.

Now not all of these things are huge mistakes I’ve made (some are just embarrassing moments), but it’s fun to see how far I’ve come.  So check it out and let me know once one thing you wish you knew when you were younger.  Leave a comment below!

 

Where to Find Work Clothes on a Budget

Where to Find Work Clothes on a Budget, clothes on a budget, career clothes, budget work clothes, clothes for the office,

The other day my Dad and I were talking about office presentation.  He noticed that I had been trying harder to dress nicer while at work (thank you losing weight and feeling more confident!).  He started sharing with me how his view of dress has changed over the years.  Now don’t get me wrong my Dad still dresses super nice at work – suit, tie or sports coat every single day.  However, I remember when I was younger he was always to dressed to the top.  He never left the house without his suit, tie and matching jacket on.  Nowadays he’s a bit more relaxed with a sports coat (ha!).  

Not that losing weight is the key to feeling confident, but when you’re very self conscious losing just a little bit of weight makes a huge difference. 

Anyways…

I told him I was trying harder because I wanted to be taken more seriously.  I understood that as a young woman in the financial services field I needed to look like I can handle our clients’ needs.  And my Dad completely agreed.  He remembered when he was first starting out, he was younger and knew that first impressions meant a lot.  So though his season in the office has shifted, mine is just getting started.  

So here I am trying harder.  I want to dress with the confidence I have to handle our clients.  And it’s not easy when you wake up exhausted with a toddler that barely slept.  The last thing you want to do is iron your clothes, but that’s the one thing you need to be doing.  So I’ve been investing in better, high quality pieces to make getting ready more fun and easier.  

When I say investing… I mean buying great clothes at killer deals.  And I want to share my secrets with you.  Lately I’ve been trying to share with you my daily work outfits over on my Instagram Stories.  I try to stick to a pretty tight budget when it comes to clothes, which means I have to take excellent care of them so they last longer.

I started thinking there might be a lot of you who are in similar boats as me – you work in a professional office and need to dress to impress.  However, you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg to get good deals.  

Here are my favorite go-to places:

Kohls.

I love, love, love Kohl’s.  I get about 80% of my clothes here.  They are always having a sale or offer free shipping online.  So what I usually do is I head over to Ebates (you can join by using my referral link here) then connect to the Kohl’s website.  Ebates will automatically enter in any coupons they can find, but I still like to Google codes to make sure I’m getting the best deal.  I also try to time it right so that I qualify for Kohl’s Cash.  That way I can use the cash for other items I need later on or on some birthday gifts (to help with our gift budget) for family.  I typically ask for gift cards for Christmas and birthday so I can use those towards any new clothes.  

Target.

My next favorite place to score great deals is Target.  Again, I prefer to shop online so I am always using my Ebates (plus the closest Target is over an hour away!).  If you play your cards right you can time your visits to the store or online with their markdown schedule.  If I’m in an area to actually go in-store then I try to time it on Tuesdays either late morning or early afternoon.  That way staff has had a chance to start the markdowns and they will be scanning the new lower prices.  

I also purchase a lot of our diapers from Target (they have a similar subscribe & save feature like Amazon offers).  Our little guy seems to do better with the Up and Up brand diapers, so I try to buy those the majority of time.  Target will offer a deal where if you spend $50 or $75 in diapers then you get a gift card back.  So I time it to order a few cases of diapers (we go through once case a month) at at time when they go on sale to score a gift card.  Then I use that gift card to help buy any new clothes I need for work.

Walmart.

I know, I know… Walmart?  Yep!  It’s true.  I have found some great blouses and sweaters at Walmart.  I haven’t really been able to find any pants that fit me too well (my legs are super short!), but the blouses are great.  You can find a great top for a steal there.  Since we have a Super Center in town I typically do all of my shopping in-person, which makes it a lot easier.  I would recommend trying pieces on before checking out (or be okay with returning items).  Sometimes their sizing isn’t as accurate or consistent, but that doesn’t bother me too much.  

Keep Pieces Simple.

This isn’t really a store, but it’s a concept.  I love colors, but I’m not big on patterns.  So by sticking to solid colors -either bright, pastels, or dark then I can easily mix-and-match pieces together.  A pair of black pants goes with just about anything; however, a pair of patterned blue floral pants are harder to pair blouses with.  My big tip is just to keep your work pieces more simple so you can pair them with different items to give the illusion of a bigger wardrobe.

Our Toddler’s Bedtime Routine

Affiliate Disclosure: 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. 

toddler's bedtime routine, toddler routine, toddler night time routine, getting your toddler to bed, toddler bed time, sleep training

Does your toddler have a bedtime routine you follow?  We do and I highly recommend it to every toddler mom.  Your little one will do so much better with a set bedtime and you will feel so much better having a little bit of time each night all to yourself.  Some nights I use my time wisely by taking care of dishes, finishing laundry and cleaning … then other nights I’m so useless and binge watch TV for a couple of hours.  But it’s my choice!  

We set the foundation for easy nighttime routines months ago when we worked on sleep training our little man.  I truly believe that is what made our nights now a lot easier.

I also know that some days are better than others when it comes to a toddler’s bedtime routine.

Typically our little guy’s routine doesn’t vary much.  We found that works best for him and for us.  Now, I am not going to sit here and say we are perfect every single day.  That would be a lie.  No one can be perfect 100% of the time.  However, we strive for some consistency because without it we are a mess.

Around 7:00 each night we start off with bath time, which our little guy loves.  We ask if he’s ready for a bath and he takes off down the hall pulling off his pants and tugging at his shirt.  If we’re not fast enough, he’ll get all the way down to his diaper and then start taking it off.  We may or may not have had to clean a few mistakes down the hallway floor a couple of times.

After bath time, we go straight to getting ready for bed with getting PJ’s on, drying his hair and then story time.  Now some nights if we’re running late on bath time or he’s extra cranky then story time is super fast.  Other nights it’s a bit longer.

During story time he gets a small bottle of milk and then it’s off to bed.  We typically lay him down while he’s still awake.  That way he can put himself to sleep and we’re not trapped for 30 minutes or longer.  When we first sleep trained him months ago I started off staying in the room until he was sound asleep.  But I found that I was keeping him awake longer.  I would rub his back and the moment I switched directions or changed hands it was an excuse for him to pop right up.  It was also killing my back.  Leaning over the crib for 30 minutes or longer was just plain miserable.  So I was moving around a lot, sometimes I would make a small noise and then he would wake wide up.  It was awful.  

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I finally realized I was the problem so I started laying him down when he was still awake.  He gets a small bottle, his favorite blanket and a few soft lullabies.  Then within 10 minutes or less he would be out.  

Most nights that’s all there is to it.  He sleeps quietly until around 7:00 the next morning.  

Now, if he’s not feeling very good or has a tooth coming in then we might be up a few times during the night to cover him back up and pat his back.  It’s very rare we have to pick up up from his crib once we lay him down for the night.  We only do that if he needs a diaper change or is sick.  For the most part once he’s down for the night, he’s down for the whole night.  

We do let him sleep with a small, light blanket.  He prefers to be covered up and loves the small swaddle blankets we received during one of his baby showers.  We also have a LeapFrog My Pal Scout in his crib.  It plays music for him to fall asleep to and he likes it.  So if he wakes up in the middle of the night then he sometimes will turn the dog back on to play more music (which was super creepy the first few times he did it because I didn’t know he could turn it on and I thought it was randomly playing at 3am).

Months ago I found this white noise machine that plays all night.  Our neighbor’s driveway is right by our son’s room.  Our little guy was waking up every time their teenage boy came home late or when they left early for work.  Now with the white noise he sleeps through it.

What’s your toddler’s bedtime routine?

First Trip to the Zoo and a GIVEAWAY of the Laguna Tide Travel Diaper Bag

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This past weekend our little family had the time of our lives.  My best friend from high school lives about 3 hours away, so after months and months of saying we would come for a visit, we finally loaded down the car hit the road. Their little girl is just a few months older than our son so they were able to play and have a blast together.  

It was so nice having a chance to catch up with my friend and to see our sweet babies becoming life long best friends.  Our little guy was exhausted come Monday morning when it was time to drive home.  He didn’t want to leave, but he needed a good long nap to get him back to normal.  This little guy was such a trooper.  All weekend we went, nonstop.  He napped only 30 minutes on Saturday and then only 30 minutes on Sunday, which is short for my sleep-loving child.

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laguna tide, laguna tide diaper bag, diaper backpack, laguna tide diaper backpack review, #lagunatide, springfieldmo, dickerson park zoo, mother and son, walking with family, mom life

On Sunday we all went to the Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, MO.  We explored every inch of the zoo, we fed giraffes and watched the lions nap on a big rock.  Our little man is as independent as they come.  Our little guy did not want to be pushed into his stroller, even when he was too tired to walk.  He wanted Daddy to carry him while he rested then he was off again.  Little man preferred to be out front, leading the way for the rest of the group.

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I was asked recently how we pack our toddler’s diaper bag for a long day away from home.  

I’ve shared in this post what we bring, but I wanted to go into more detail about why I like to carry a diaper backpack on those long days.

I don’t know about you, but carrying around a diaper bag all day is so not fun.  The bag usually falls off my shoulder, especially when I bend over to pick up our son.  If I have it stuffed for a busy day then I usually lose a few items with each pickup too.  I saw online a few diaper backpacks and really wanted to give one a try.  I ordered one on Amazon not that long ago for our trip to Florida.  It’s a nice bag, but honestly I knew I could do better.  I had been trying to find a new one when I was asked to try out the new Laguna Tide Travel Diaper Bag. I jumped at the chance.  I looked at it online and thought this could really be the answer to my diaper bag problems.  So the people over at Laguna Tide were super nice and gave me this diaper backpack to test (and they offered you a coupon code for 15% off, keep reading to get the code!).  

laguna tide diaper backpack

This past weekend was the perfect time, too.  With all of the traveling and adventures we went on made sure this bag could keep up.  I recorded a quick video of my first impressions and as promised I’m sharing my final thoughts on this bag, too.

This diaper backpack is the real deal.  I loved so many features about it, but the best part was the actual backpack straps it comes with.  So many diaper bags (even ones I’ve purchased before) have such thin straps.  So by the time you get the straps adjusted and the bag filled, the straps just slide right back down when you go to pick it up.  It can be such a pain walking through the store with a diaper bag banging against your rear-end.  

This bag also came with some great insulated pockets so we were able to keep out little man’s snacks cool during the 80 degree weather, plus his sippy cup of water stayed cold while we explored the zoo.  The bag even came with a changing pad, which came in handy at the gross public bathroom at the zoo.  I’m not a real germ-a-phobic mom, but something about those public restrooms gross me out.  I was easily able to change our little guy, reach everything I need without having to take the bag all the way off and set it on the dirty floor.  That’s a huge game changer for me.  I always hate having to take off my diaper bag, sit it on the ground (because there is never a table or hook near those stations), dig out what I need all while trying to keep my busy toddler from falling off.  

Overall I give this bag 5 out of 5 stars!  It really was a huge help to have a nice, sturdy bag for a long weekend.  The people over at Laguna Tide and I are partnering up to off you a chance to win one of these bags.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway will run from September 8 through midnight on September 14.  So be sure to enter for your chance to win.  You can grab one of these Laguna Tide Travel Diaper Bags over amazon.  Make sure to use the coupon code: MEREGP15 to get 15% off.

I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

How To Save Money On Date Night

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Do you date your spouse?  If not, you should really consider giving it a try.  I have noticed a huge difference in our attitude towards one another just by going on a few dates here and there (without the kiddo).  Dating your spouse can really help keep your marriage strong and the two of you connected.  You can lose tough with each other with the world swirling by with play dates, work functions, grocery shopping, preparing meals, laundry, cleaning, errands, and so on.  It’s easy to just become roommates who are more like partners running a business then two people who fell in love.  

By making a commitment to date one another you’re declaring the love you have is still strong.  You’re making your relationship a priority, which will show your children just what a healthy marriage looks like.  But there are a few ground rules for a great date night – no financial talk (yes I’m a huge fan of money dates, but those are different then these types of dates), don’t talk about other household responsibilities, try to keep the talk about issues with your children to a minimum.  Don’t get me wrong I love talking about my little kid as much as the next mom, but I try not to talk about his eating, sleeping, or pooping habits on date night.

With all this talk of dating your spouse, you’re probably wondering how to budget for it.  Well there are many different ways to build a date night each week or twice a month into your budget.  We do it by taking money from our eating out fund, which means we have a date night every two weeks (sometimes more and sometimes less).  We have found a few ways to save money on date night by following these simple tips:

Use gift cards.  

We stockpile our gift cards to use just for date night, which means we usually get to go to a restaurant that we normally wouldn’t eat at.  It’s a great way to save a lot of money.  My work gives gift cards away once a month for hitting your target, which is how we get majority of our cards.  But we also pay attention to giveaways and door prizes that local businesses offer.  Another great way is to ask for gift cards from family for birthdays or Christmas.  

When using a gift card, please keep in mind that you will have to leave a tip for the staff.  Just bring some cash with you so you can easily take care of it or you can always order the food to-go and then head to the local park for a picnic.

Don’t be afraid of coupons.  

Keep your weekly newspaper and mailings that have restaurant coupons.  Date night doesn’t have to be a some fancy place.  All you need is some food or entertainment and a place for just the two of you.  Remember – there is no shame in the coupon game!

Have a date night at home.

One of our favorite things to do is drop off our little guy with my parents then have a nice quiet evening at home.  We pile on the couch, we watch movies that we would never get through when our toddler is around and we cook dinner together (or use our gift cards to pick up dinner).  

If your like us and don’t have a list of babysitters to call for date night, then swap out with a friend.  More than likely you trust your friend to watch your little ones and they trust you.  So don’t be afraid to ask them to watch your kids in exchange for you watching theirs.  They probably won’t mind and they would love the idea of having a free night with a reliable babysitter.  

I wanted to share with you our list of favorite date night ideas, too.  Check it out:

Dinner out
Dinner to go at the local park
Date night at home watching movies
Going window shopping
Driving around looking at holiday decorations
Game night at home
Grilling dinner and lighting our backyard fire pit
Going to a local theater production

What are some of your favorite ways to save money on date night ideas?