Category Archives: Family

Fun Fall Activities

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Since this month’s theme is Focus on Family, I thought it was time to update our fall bucket list from last year.  This year our little man can walk (even though he usually runs everywhere) and he’s learning to be more independent.  I was such a stubborn, determined little girl and our son is just like that – he always wants to do everything himself without any help from Mom and Dad.  He takes it upon himself to figure something out and he usually doesn’t give up without a fight.  We figured we might as well keep him busy this Fall so he can keep learning and trying new things.

This year we plan on doing a lot of fun stuff this fall.  I wanted to share with you some fall fun activities that you can do, too.  I put together a bucket list for our family, you can download it here.

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One of the biggest questions I get this time of year is how do you afford doing all of these things… well the truth is we plan for it and budget for them.  There a couple different ways you can budget for any day trip or fun outing.  First you can create a sinking fund, which means you decide on an amount you want to spend a month or so before it happens.  Then you put money back each week tor each your goal.  

The next way is to use any leftover money from your previous month’s budget.  For instance, let’s say you didn’t eat out one week and didn’t need all of your grocery budget.  Well you can use that for any day trips or things you want to buy that are outside your normal budgeting.  Finally, you can always take from your current budget category, too.  I don’t love doing it this way because it could leave you having to go without until your next budget period, but it’s a possibility. If you choose to take from your current budget then I recommend taking from your eating out category.  That way it’s easier to go without and you can always prepare one more dinner that week to help make up for it.

We typically try to find places that don’t charge to get into or they have a discount for a specific weekend.  If they have a petting zoo then we sometimes will buy food for our son to feed them, but that’s usually not more than $1 or $2.  Now if you love carving pumpkins, like we do then we prefer to buy them at the local pumpkin patches.  They are typically a better price than you can find at the grocery store, plus we like supporting local farmers and business owners.  But we usually only buy one pumpkin since our little one is too young to actually carve yet.  

 

What are some of your favorite fall activities to do with your family?  Leave a comment letting me know!

Focus on Family Month

focus on family, fall fun, fall activities, cheap fall fun, activities for your family, cheap family fun, things to do during fall

Happy October! They say winter is the most magical time of the year, but I think Fall is a very close second. This month since the temperatures will be starting to drop we’ll be spending lots of time outside.  There are a few pumpkin patches, corn mazes and other fun stuff we are going to try to do.

I figured this would be a great time to have another focus month.  If you remember, back in February I typically have a Focus On Finances month.  I always planned on having another focus month, but it never happened.  I guess that’s what happens when you’re a Mom – your brain is going a mile a minute, all the time and if you don’t write it down then it just won’t happen.

Anyways, I realized that October would be perfect for a Focus on Family month.  I put together a bucket list last year, but now that our little boy is older we’ll be able to do a lot more.  Last year we went to the pumpkin patch and he was barely 6 months old so there was a lot he just wasn’t able to do.  But now he is 18 months and is full of energy.  He runs, never walks.  Our sitter’s husband calls him Mouth of the South, which is some former wrestler that apparently never stopped running his mouth.

This month will be all about spending time together.  Fall is a great time to be outside, it’s not too hot and it’s not too cold yet.  Where we live pumpkin patches pop up about this time of year, so there is always a fun (and cheap) activity we can go do on the weekend.  I’m planning on putting together a new fall bucket list of things we are most excited about doing this year with our little man.  

But to get you started with the Focus on Family month, here’s a list of a few fall fun activities you can do with your family:

spend time together at the local pumpkin patch
go apple picking
attend a fall festival
plan a family themed Halloween outfit
have a few picnics outside
go to the park
have a movie night

What are some of your favorite things to do as a family?  Leave a comment letting me know!

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?

No Eating Out Challenge – How To Save Over $2,000 a Year

no eating out challenge, eat at home more, meal planning, spending freeze, how to do a spending freeze

I don’t know about you, but I like to eat out.  There is just something about someone else cooking dinner for my family and doing the dishes that’s hard to resist. But lately we have found ourselves splurging a little too often on our dinners.  We haven’t gone crazy overboard on our spending, because I have been tracking pretty consistently.  But we could be saving more money just by eating at home and I know that.

Do you need a break from eating out?  I know we do!  Over this past week I came to the realization we needed a break from the easy option.  So I created a simple a challenge… I call it the…

No Eating Out Challenge

It’s similar to the idea of a spending freeze, but it only applies to eating out.  Basically it is going to force us to sit at home around the kitchen table a bit more for the next 7 days.  We can reconnect and just spend more time together – the three of us.  I encourage you to join in on the (fun) challenge with us.  We plan on starting Monday morning, but you can start anytime you want.  

The Rules:

No eating out for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
No quick pick-ups at the gas station, including drinks.
No easy runs to the grocery store to by an already (or almost) prepared meal.
Eat at home every night this week.
Take lunch with us to work or school every day this week.

The Goal:

Save money.  Reconnect as a family.  Start utilizing the meal plan that is created each week so food is not wasted. 

Are you in?  If so, leave a comment letting me know when you planning on starting.  Let’s encourage each other during this no eating out challenge!

Watch my latest Facebook Live video where I talk all about the savings from taking this challenge.

Lazy Weekends

I thought it was time to do a little family update over here. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in talking budgeting, saving money and frugal living that I can overlook the smaller things – like my cute family!

This little boy has been loving Summer! I think he’s enjoyed having Mom and Dad off on Fridays to get to do fun things together. We’ve been to Grant’s Farm in St. Louis to see the fun animals and take a fun ride through the park.  He even went on his first carousel ride.  He wasn’t too sure of it, but as long as I was near he was brave enough to try.  But once the music stopped and the animals stopped moving, he was ready to get off.

J found a fun petting zoo called the Lazy L Safari Park not too far from our home, so we took a day trip up there.   It was neat.  A family had some acreage outside of a city and they turned it into a petting zoo with about 50 different species on the property.  Most of the animals you could pet and feed, except for the camels since they’re a bit mean.  Our little boy found a deer that he fell in love with.  He kept going up to him and feeding him, then the deer would follow Dent has he walked down a path.  Dent thought it was hilarious.   

You all now how much our little man loves the water after our Florida vacation a few months ago, so we were sure to fill a little backyard kiddie pool so he could splish-splash anytime.  Then when we went to a church carnival he found the one game that involved water… of course!  Dent thought it was so fun to pick up ducks, splash them down then pick up another one.  He wasn’t sure why he stopped getting prizes for picking up his ducks, but that’s because Mom ran out of tickets. 

One of the biggest days so far is when we took Dent in for his first haircut.  I thought I was going to really struggle with my baby’s little hairs being cut, but it ended up being such a great experience.  I went to a friend from high school who has kids of her own and she was able to snip his hair without any problems.  He wiggled a lot, but didn’t cry!  I took a picture of him on his trike the day before just so I could remember his sweet baby hair.

It feels like this summer is flying by.  I want time to stand still just a bit so I can enjoy my boy a little longer.  I don’t know about you, but it feels like his first year flew by and his second is going twice as fast.  I am going to savor the last few Fridays off and the rest of our Summer weekends together.  We plan on watching some fun fireworks over the 4th of July and spend some time my the pool at my parents’ house.  It’s going to be good!

What To Bring To Family Photos With Baby

what to bring to family photos, checklist for family photo session, what to bring to cake smash session

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.  

what to bring for family photos, what to take to photo session with baby, what to bring to family photos

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!

cake smash, babys first birthday, boy birthday, gone fishing birthday theme

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!

what to bring for family photos, what to take to photo session with baby, what to bring to family photos

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.  

Giving Thanks

I wanted to do a post all about giving thanks this year.  

Let’s be honest… this year I have so much to be thankful for.  It’s hard to even think of every great thing that has happened in 2016! I wanted to take time to give thanks to those that have made this year truly special.  First up…

 

My Son

thankful for

baby in hat, giving thanks

I also have this little guy to be eternally grateful for.  I seriously can’t imagine my life without him and have no idea how I survived for so long before him.  He makes every day happier.  I am always on my toes trying to figure out what to do.  Am I doing enough? Is he happy? 

Husband

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Then there is J, my rock.  He is the best husband and dad I could of pictured.  Maybe even better then my wildest dreams!  Watching him with our son makes me fall in love with him more each day.  One of the biggest reasons I fell in love with him many years ago is that he wouldn’t let me walk all over him (I know sounds crazy, but it’s true.  Ready about it here.).  And I’m happy to say that even today, he will still .d.fd.fafdakjfkad

Family

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My family means the world to me.  When I was struggling with be a first-time mom, recovering from major surgery and balance my career on top of it all I had a realization of just how lucky I am.  My family and J’s family are there for me no matter what.  It was so great to have people that care about me, J and our son.  They took time off work, they make time for us and it’s amazing.  I am so happy to have these people not only in my life, but in my son’s too.

Career

I have found a career that I am truly passionate about.  I have this desire to learn and help others, this career path I’m on gives me the opportunity to do that every single day.  I work with incredible people that foster an environment to reach the same goals I have.  I’m continuing to pursue my Certified Financial Planner designation and once I have earned that certificate then I will continue on to earn the Certified Public Accountant designation.  It’s going to be a long, hard process, but I am excited.  I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for me.  

You

I have to thank every single one of you! You have helped me reach new goals with this blog of mine.  It’s grown and grown over the past year.  I know it’s because you have found something of value and decided to share my posts with others.  Thank you!

 

Friends

Last, but certainly not least I have to mention my friends.  As I get older I have learned that my Mom was right many years ago.  She said you will have different friends for different phases in your life.  And if you’re lucky, a few of them will float with you through every phase.  I have a handful of amazing people that I have kept in contact with since high school and college.  To me these (mostly) women have helped shape me into who I am.  They call me out on my B.S., they are there for me anytime I need them and I am there for them.  They are my anchors.  

Fall Bucket List {Fall Family Fun}

fall bucket list, things to do in the fall

It’s here. It’s here! My favorite season has finally arrived.

Now in Southeast Missouri we still have some warm days. I’m pretty sure today’s high will be in the 80s. But I don’t care. There has been a glimpse of Fall weather in the air and we went to the pumpkin patch last weekend, which means… Fall is here!

Now that our little guy is getting bigger, I want to be more active and do so much more with him. I know he won’t remember everything we’re doing right now, but he is so happy. Plus, I love a good excuse to take thousands of pictures.

Last Saturday was an absolute blast.  If you follow me on Instagram (which you totally should!) then you probably saw some of my posts.  We went to the pumpkin patch not too far away last weekend.  We went to our County Fair in the morning to see the parade and the dog show.  Our baby was so mesmerized by all of the lights and sirens on the police cars and fire trucks.  J was pretty happy with the candy they were throwing. HA!  Don’t worry we didn’t take any from little kids or anything!

fall bucket list, things to do in the fall

fall bucket list, things to do in the fall

fall bucket list, things to do in the fall

Afterwards we drove to the closest pumpkin patch with my parents.  We saw a petting zoo, went down a big tunnel slide and then go lost in the corn maze.  We somehow made our way out of the maze, but missed 2 of the meet-up points hidden inside.  Then of course J and my Dad had to pick out a ginormous pumpkin to carve.  We’re headed to my parents’ house tonight to eat chili and carve this monster.  

I put together a Fall Bucket List for J and I to do with our little guy. We’ve already crossed a few items off the list and I can’t wait to do the rest of the things on here.

Here’s our Fall Bucket List.

fall bucket list, things to do in the fall

I created it as a free download so you can join in on the Fall Fun too! Get your Fall Bucket List by clicking here.

What’s your favorite thing about Fall? Mine is the cooler weather for sure!

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Dear Mom,

Today is your birthday.  Happy birthday to you!  I’ve probably already called and sang (in my beautiful singing voice) to you.  If not, then it’s coming.  So be prepared.  As I’ve gotten older, I have realized just how lucky I am to have a Mom like you.

You’ve taught me so much in my 30 years on this planet.  I could never thank you enough for all you and Dad have done for me.  I’m sure I wasn’t the easiest kid, especially when I was hungry.  I know I still have my moments when I’m hungry, too.  But I am working on that!

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You are the hardest working woman I know.  I’ve been telling you for years that you work too hard, but you never seem to listen.  That’s actually one thing you taught me at a very early age – it’s okay to be a career woman while putting your family first.  I know that I can juggle parenthood, family life and my career because I watched you do so effortlessly each and every day.  You’d wake up early, get ready then get us ready for school.  I’m sure it was a huge relief when we were old enough to dress ourselves and fix our own breakfasts.

You were there for me every time I fell, literally and metaphorically.  Which I fell a lot as a kid and spent many nights in the ER.  Thank you for never making me feel like it was my fault.  You’d teach me, but the most important thing was if I was okay.

You were always fair between us sisters.  You never took one’s side over the other.  As the baby I did like to push those limits, but somehow you always knew.  And somehow you and Dad were always on the same page.  If I asked Dad something and he said no then I would immediately try you – somehow you always had the same answer!  I could never get away with anything!

In high school our house was the best place to be.  I realize now that you strived hard to make it the spot.  We had the best snacks, music playing, swimming, and you never minded if I had friends over.  I hope to some day have the house-to-be for my child when he’s older.  That way I know he’s okay and where he is.  Of course, he’ll be oblivious just like I was.

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I hope your birthday is wonderful.  If anyone deserves a day dedicated to just them – it’s you.  Happy Birthday, Mom!  Thank you for all you do!

Happy Birthday to My Sister

Some people aren’t lucky enough to be born into a family that supports and loves one another like I was.  I have been on such an amazing journey knowing that I am loved.  I know I have a family that will stand up for me, no matter what.  I remember once in junior high my Mom staging a sit-in at the principal’s office, all because I had one-too-many tardies and was going to get Saturday school.  I was too young to drive and why should I be punished for the bus running late because every kid on the bus received a tardy that morning or why was I going to be in trouble because my parents were running late?  My Mom didn’t see the point of Saturday school and my tear-filled face couldn’t stand the thought of being punished for something that was out of my control.  So, my Mom sat, sat some more, and refused to get up.  Wouldn’t you know the principal cracked first and my tardiness was excused, and I was free to sleep-in that Saturday?  That’s love.
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I grew up in a small(ish) town knowing that my older sister was my protector.  I was one of the first kids in daycare to learn how to tie her own shoes.  Mainly because my sister was tired of always having to show me.  So she sat me down in our family room one afternoon and showed me how.  She must have demonstrated a thousand times.  For some reason she didn’t lose her patience with me and celebrated my final victory of getting the last around and through the hole.   She was the one that taught me how to be cool, not be a tattle-tale because “you know what happens to tattle-tales? They end up stuffed inside a locker,” and she taught me how to let loose in college.

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I’m lucky my sister stood with me on my wedding day and held my dress while I went pee like fifty times that day (at least it felt like that much).  I cannot wait to celebrate her big day on a beach in Florida with her.  She deserves greatness and is destined for success.  Happy, happy  birthday to my older sister.  I can’t wait until the day that we are both in our 80’s sitting outside on a front porch yelling at those youngin’s while holding a martini in one hand.
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