Happy First Birthday To Our Little Guy

first birthday, boy birthday, southeast missouri photographer, first birthday photo

When I was younger I would always hear my parents say “this year flew by” or “it’ll be over in a blink of an eye” and honestly, I didn’t get it.  I just couldn’t relate.  Sure the school year seemed to go by fast, but not that fast.  But since the birth of our son I feel like the days are zooming past us.  Days turn into minutes kind of fast.  

I feel like it was just yesterday we were being escorted out of the hospital by the nurse telling us to enjoy every moment because he’ll be turning one before we realize.  I didn’t believe her – I was too excited to think about his first year going by that fast.  But here I am on the eve of his first birthday with tears coming to my eyes.  

My baby is no longer a baby.

We are celebrating his first birthday tomorrow with family and friends, cookies and lots of yummy food.  

His first birthday…

It just doesn’t seem possible.  I have a toddler.  It was hard enough when he was no longer a newborn, but I coped with the fact he was still a baby.  But today, right now I no longer have a baby.  I have a fully walking, energetic toddler who is a force to be reckoned with.  He has a full personality and the deepest belly laugh I’ve ever heard.  He loves being outside, love swimming and has three best friends who follow him everywhere hoping he’ll drop a piece of food.

first birthday, boy birthday, southeast missouri photographer, first birthday photo

A few weeks ago we hired Josh DeFord to shoot some family snaps and some first birthday pictures.  They turned out so, so, so good!  Look at those baby blues, people!  

My Mom said something to me right before my little guy was delivered in a dramatic fashion.  “I know that he’s your baby, but remember you’re my baby.”

You know what, she was right (I hate to admit it though).  Even though he’s no longer this squishy newborn who I cheered the first time he rolled over, he will always be my baby.

 

I’ve been planning his first birthday party for a few weeks now.  I can’t wait to share pictures from tomorrow’s party and exactly how I did it on such a tight budget.  So come back next week for all the details!

Packing for the Beach

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packing for the beach on a budget

J and I are planning our next trip to the beach in just a few weeks.  Eek! I’m so excited!  I love the ocean and this year our little guy is walking and so much more active then when we took him last summer.  We’re planning on doing so much while we’re there.  I’m not sure how we’re going to fit it all in!  I’ve let J be the vacation planner this year.  He booked the trip and he’s planning what things we’ll go do.  I know there will be some put-put in the mix somewhere… that’s one of his favorite things to do on vacation.  The only thing I’ve requested is some time relaxing and playing at the beach.  Other than that – it’s up to him!  

We’re not staying to far from Daytona Speedway so we’ll probably make a drive out there so J can see the track.  He’s always wanted to go to the Daytona 500… so visiting the track is pretty much the same thing, right? ha!

I’ve been in full planning mode for a few days now.  While packing for the beach I realized we don’t have any summer clothes that aren’t completely worn out or still fit us. #losingweight  I’ve ordered a few new shirts and shorts for J, but I needed a new swimsuit.  I’m pretty sure I’ve had the same two suits for the past 4 years.  They needed to be retired.  I also wanted to mix things up this year and get a cute tankini.  I found some one Amazon that were super cute and seemed really flattering.  But I needed to stick to a budget. 

 
 
I loved this bralette tankini swimsuit so much that I ordered it.  Plus it was less than $25.  WHAT?!?! I really liked how it has some added coverage with the tank top, but still looks cute.  Plus it totally fit in my budget!  I can’t wait to wear it on the beach!
I also ordered these swim trunks for our little guy to wear. I just thought the octopus was adorable!  I like swimwear that has built in UPF protection for our son.  It gives me a piece of mind knowing he has a little more protection over his body then just sunscreen.  Also, they were less than $10, which was a huge bonus!  I added in this super cute rash guard for some extra protection up top.  Again, this shirt was less than $10. I think he is going to look so cute in it!  Ah! I can’t wait!

Now the only thing left to order is J’s swim trunks.  He’s not the easiest to buy for.  He’s picky than I am when it comes to his clothes.  We’re flying this year instead of driving, so we aren’t packing as much as we did last year.  We’re only staying for part of the week instead of the full 7 days, too.  I wrote a blog post on some awesome beach hacks for baby and I plan on packing a lot off that list so we can make sure to have a stress free vacation.

Packing for the beach is so much fun!  I know as our trip gets closer I’m going to be buying sunscreen and aloe (just in case) and loading in all of our new clothes.  I’m so excited for our first family vacation as a family of three.  This is the start to something great – I know it!

 

DIY Nursery Decor

DIY nursery wall art, DIY nursery decor, DIY boy nursery
My little guy is almost a year old and I realized I never shared the DIY nursery art I created.  I’ve been asked how we decorated his nursery and to be honest, I’ve kept things super simple.  Not a lot on the walls because I knew as he grew I would be changing a lot to meet his tastes.  I kept it basic with a few DIY art pieces I created on the computer and then had printed.  Here’s how I made those DIY pieces for his nursery. 

I wanted cute artwork for our little boy’s nursery.  However, I wasn’t a fan of the prices I kept seeing everywhere or I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for.  I wanted something colorful, that fit in with our color-theme, but I didn’t want it to be too overwhelming or something that would break the bank.  I just kept thinking there would be a time he would no longer want these pieces on his wall and I’m not one to splurge on something that can be easily replaced.

I already have some minor skills with Photoshop and I use canva.com for most of my blog pieces, so I figured I would just create some artwork myself.  I found quotes or ideas that I liked, but then played around with the colors and layout to make it work for me.

You can use canva to recreated these images or create your own.  Open canva and click on A4 as your size, or use a custom size to create a piece for a picture frame you already have.

Then get to work.  It may take you awhile to find the perfect combination of colors and fonts, but you’ll get there.  I think 30-45 minutes spent creating my own was well worth it compared to the price of similar (but not the right colors) options I found at Hobby Lobby and online.  

Once I had a few created, I just saved them to a thumb drive and had my local print shop print them out on good quality paper.  Then I headed to Hobby Lobby to find some frames.  I had a gift card from my birthday that I hadn’t used yet so I purchased the picture frames with that. All of the pieces only cost $1.50, which was for the prints.  Not too bad for a cute little nursery wall.  

DIY nursery wall art, DIY nursery decor, DIY boy nursery

DIY nursery wall art, DIY nursery decor, DIY boy nursery

DIY nursery wall art, DIY nursery decor, DIY boy nursery

DIY nursery decor was made!  So easy and so inexpensive.  

I created a nice little gallery wall with really no expense added to it.  I think these pieces really add something to the room and I know when the time comes and he has outgrown them then I won’t be too heartbroken to replace them.

DIY nursery wall art, DIY nursery decor, DIY boy nursery

I’m all about saving money where I can.  I know diapers, wipes, clothes and everything else is going to be insanely expensive over time.  So I wanted to make sure I saved as much money as possible on everything else.  We received so many pieces from family and friends, clothes were all given to us and the furniture was either a hand-me-down or given to us.  So the last thing I wanted to do in this budget nursery was go crazy on artwork.  It was very sensible and it pained me to think about it. 

DIY nursery art, decor for nursery, boy nursery

Plus, he’s the cutest and he deserved to have the cutest nursery to match!

I really think these DIY nursery decor pieces make the whole room.  A nursery tour is coming soon!

Thoughts on Essential Oils

essential oils, how to use essential oils, how to get essentail oils for cheap

Back in January we ordered our first set of essential oils and diffuser. I know, I know, what took us so long?

First – I’m frugal.

Second – it can be overwhelming to know what brands, which oils and how to use them.

We waited until it was just too good to pass up. You see, J used to have a program through his work that he could earn points for. Those points could be spent on products. We ordered his Oakley sunglasses, my Ray-Ban sunglasses, stuff for our son, gifts for family and a golf club through this site. So when the company decided to phase out the program – we decided it was time to use the rest of his points.

He didn’t have a ton so a lot of the items were off limits. But I stumbled upon a diffuser and decided it was time to give it a shot. Our little guy had just gotten over RSV, I was still coughing from a weeks-old cold and we needed help.

They only had one brand to sell and since we could use points instead of money we went with it. I purchased both oils they had – the blended oils and regular oils.  I liked the blended ones so I didn’t have to come up with recipes and combinations by myself.

essential oils, how to use essential oils, how to get essentail oils for cheap

It was a little overwhelming at first to know which oils and  how to use them.  I found a great site from doTerra to help use get started. I know the oils we bought weren’t doTerra brand, but they have some great resources out there.  I also have been following Michelle Cannon on Instagram for awhile.  And I just think she’s great!  She shares different blends and tips every day.  

I think the essential oils have really helped our family.  It puts moisture in the air, but more importantly I feel that it helps detox the air.  With three dogs, a baby, J and I we will take all of the help we can get!

essential oils, how to use essential oils, how to get essentail oils for cheap

Once these run out then I plan on investing in some good essential oils, like doTerra.  I have a feeling these will last me awhile, but who knows I may get tempted to change it up after awhile.  

Do you use essential oils? What are your favorite combinations?  I’m trying to learn all I can!

How To Do It All As A Mom

how to do it all as a mom

Ever since I was a little girl I would always fill my plate too full (figuratively, of course – unless we’re talking about cake!). I would take on too much, not sleep, get grumpy and end up sick. This was a pretty regular circle I would put myself through. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten better about what I take on. I try not to do too much or over-commitment myself. These days I don’t have time to get sick. I no longer just have to worry about myself. I have a family who needs me. Mommy doesn’t have time to lay in bed for a day to sleep.

I’ve shared how I stay on top of everything before using a handy notebook. My process is still pretty similar, but I have made a few tweaks and my productivity has skyrocketed. Even with being a wife, mom, running a household, working full time and going to school. I get so much done in a day – it’s crazy! My 20 year old self would be jealous.

how to do it all as a mom

Here’s what I do in my notebook:

MASTER TO-DO LIST

I create a master to-do list. Usually it’s just a brain dump. I keep 2-3 (or more) pages blank for my master list. I write down everything – no matter how small or how big, or how expensive it’s going to be. As new projects come into my brain, I write them down. This helps a lot when trying to focus my attention to something specific.

For example, I was trying to study for my Certified Financial Planner exam that is coming up. This always seems to be the time my brain starts thinking of thousands of things to do. I keep my notebook near turned to my master list page and jot down what pops into my mind. I get it out of my brain and then I can stay focused on my task at hand – studying.

RUNNING GROCERY LIST

I have a running grocery list in my notebook. This way if I’m doing my makeup and run out of makeup remover, then I can write it down. Or if I’m out and J texts me he’s going to need more lunch meat for next week – I write it down. I tend to keep my notebook with me wherever I am. If I’m in the kitchen, it’s on the counter. If I’m running errands, it’s in my purse. If I’m at work, it’s on my desk.

I tend to go grocery shopping every two weeks. So I pull out my notebook to see what random items need then I prepare my meal plan and create the big grocery list. I also am a little compulsive and make my grocery list in order of the store, but this is so I can save money and not get distracted.

DAILY TO-DO LIST

The biggest change I’ve made in using a notebook is taking my master-list and breaking it down to a daily list. Having something for each individual day has really helped me get more done. I highly recommend to everyone I talk with to use a daily to-do list. It will help keep you focused and on the right path to reach your big goals.

Each morning once I get to work, the first thing I do is grab my notebook. I add my number one goal to the first line. For me, it’s to workout. I have been trying hard to bump up my workouts and to make it a habit. So that’s what goes down first. Then I look at my work calendar to see what meetings or client tasks I need to get done. Those are listed next. Finally, I look at my master to-do list to see what tasks I can break down.

For example, on my master to-do list I have to create a blog post three times a week for the rest of the month. After all of my work tasks are written I will add one or two personal tasks to my list. My goal of creating new content for the blog is easy to break down. I work on creating the post one day, edit and create images the next, then post. So in two days I can create a new post. Some days it may take more or less time to finish one blog post, but you get the idea.

USE IT EVERY DAY

I get out my notebook every single day. Even on the weekends. This helps keep me focused on my bigger projects. For instance, we’re wanting to replace the baseboards and repaint our entire home. It’s going to be expensive and a big undertaking. But by breaking it down into smaller steps then it’s no so overwhelming.

I don’t plan on painting every room the same color, so one day I may decide which rooms to start in. Then I will pick out the colors and measure the room to determine how much of investment new paint will be.

The next weekend may be pulling off the old baseboards and prepping for paint.

Then we paint the rooms and buy new baseboards.

Next weekend will be painting the baseboards.

The final weekend will be cutting and installing the baseboards.

See how I took a big project and broke it into smaller steps? Seems super simple, but a lot of people get stuck on the big goal and it paralyzes them. They may see paint and install new baseboards and get very overwhelmed. Then it just sits on their to-do list for months. By breaking it down your cost is lowered and the commitment each weekend isn’t too time consuming. It may take 5 weekends to do it all, but that’s okay if it relieves the stress.

My notebook has really helped me get more done without making myself sick or crazy. If I don’t have time to get it all done, no big deal. I turn to the next day’s page and jot down what’s left. I’ve given myself permission to not be perfect, to not get it all done in one day. And that feeling has been amazing and a total game changer.

It’s Okay To Not Have It All Together

it's okay to not have it all together

Oh Instagram how you fool me… Every. Single. Day. With your picture-perfect images of well-behaved children, perfectly dressed moms and women who actually have time to make it to the gym. But that’s just an illusion. Because I can craft a well-lit, no mess picture with the best of them. However, I’m not afraid to show it how it truly is.

A kid up most of the night crying because his teeth hurt. Dogs that bark every time there is a noise in the house that then wakes everyone up. A kitchen that’s clean for about 5 minutes a week. A family room with toys everywhere. Two parents chasing a boy around so he doesn’t try to pick up the never ending tumbleweeds of dog hair or put his hands in their water bowl.

Because no matter how often I sweep, vacuum and steam clean there is still going to be dog hair everywhere. It’s just how our life is. I roll with it.

I wish more people were real online. It would be great to know I’m not only one out there with less than perfect moments. Like not that long ago when Baby Boy was sick. I kept him home for 4 days one week since he was so sick. He was having tummy issues because of the antibiotics he was on, so you can just imagine the lovely messes I was having to deal with.  One afternoon he gave me a doozy, when I finally got him changed into a new diaper and clean clothes, I gently placed him in his crib so I could turn my attention to the disgusting changing pad. I had barely stripped off the cover when Baby Boy started coughing. I turn just in time to see him projectile vomit over everything. Like everything. He got the crib, the wall, himself, the sheets, his toy.

Gross. Of course I was home alone so no calling out for help on this one. I took a towel patted him dry then had to quickly finish cleaning the changing area. Then it was time for a new sleeper (luckily there was one clean one left in the drawer because I was desperately needing to do laundry). Placed him in the floor, stripped the bed (thank God for waterproof mattress covers, am I right?!), and put new sheets on. Then had to completely wipe down his crib and the wall.  Ugh.

It was a workout. I was sweating by the time it was all done.

sleep training your baby, getting your baby to sleep through the night

But of course I didn’t post that… I mean, I probably would have if there wasn’t poop on my phone from the earlier incident. But I did get this cute shot of him earlier that day while he was fighting his naptime. I mean look at this face. Who knew that in just a few short hours he was going to destroy his bedroom so quickly!

I know I’m not the only Mom who faces these struggles. Days where you feel like you’re running in circles. Days where you just can’t seem to get ahead. I can’t be the only one. Please tell me I’m not!

mom life

mom life

I’m not afraid to show it how it is on Instagram.  I’ve been known to show a cute month photo, but then turn around and show how the room actually looked.  It’s usually not very pretty.  Or share my desk at the office and how baby wearing is the only way I can get anything done.

I wish there were more Moms keeping it real online. Blogging and Instagram shouldn’t just be the pretty moments, but all moments. That’s what makes us so relatable, right?

How to Make a Healthy Baby Smoothie

healthy baby smoothie

Our little guy went for his 9 month check up not too long ago.  We were almost a month late on his wellness appointment thanks to scheduling issues and a double ear infection.  Anyway, we go there and our little guy is growing so good!  He’s still a small guy compared to some of our friends’ and family’s babies, but I think he’s perfect.  The doctor said he’s right on track with everything he needs to be then she started talking about his feeding. I realized that we need to up our game when it game to solids.  We needed to make sure he was snacking and getting the right nutrients each day.  

Now I know that for at least the first year most of his nutrients will come from his formula, but it doesn’t hurt to up our game in the solids department.  Honestly, I was terrified (and still am) about choking.  I hate the thought of him not eating something perfectly pureed, but I know he needs to learn about textures and how to eat on his own.  I’ve started to work past my fear and give him more and more finger foods.  

So far he has really enjoyed these baby cookies I made the other day.  I love them because there isn’t any added sugar, he loves them because of the taste and the fact he can feed himself.  We’ve also given him some lentils and beans that were a huge hit.  Literally… he would hit his trays and beans would go flying! HA!

how to make a smoothie for your baby

healthy smoothie for baby

Let’s see… we’ve also given him some pieces of fruit like pears and mangos…. and a few more.  I just make sure to cut them into smaller pieces so he can pick up and stick in his mouth.  He loves avocados and bananas that are smashed a bit.  Those are the messy dinners!

Since he doesn’t have the greatest hand-eye coordination yet, I want to make sure he’s getting enough nutrients through out the day.  I found this post about a baby smoothie and fell in love with the idea.  Something he could carry around, drink on through out the day and fill his tummy with nutritious foods.  I used what I had on hand to make one and he loved it.  At first he wasn’t so sure, but then he was spinning around backwards in his walker drinking it up!

snacks for baby

Here’s what you need for the perfect baby smoothie:

1/2 package of veggie filled baby food
1/2 package of fruit filled baby food
1 T. baby cereal (more or less)
1/2 juice from a fruit cup (packed in 100% juice)
1/2 banana, mashed
1/2 pieces of fruit from fruit cup
water, as needed

Add all of the ingredients into your magic bullet or blender, blend until combined.  Add water (make sure it’s drinkable for baby!) and keep blending until the desired consistency is reached.  You want it to be easily drinkable from a sippy cup.  

baby smoothie

Now these ingredients for this baby smoothie are interchangeable.  Use what you have on hand.  If you make your own baby food, like I do sometimes then use that!  Whatever works.  The banana and added fruit help take away from the veggie taste of the baby food so it’s more desirable to your little one.  The first time I made this I didn’t have any baby cereal on hand so I left it out.  It still worked great.  Super easy!

Oatmeal Banana Baby Cookies {recipe}

oatmeal banana cookies for baby

Do you ever get in one of those moods where you need to stay busy all day long. Like sitting down would be the worst possible thing to do? No, just me? Seriously! Well it happens. Right now I’m working 6 days a week so Sundays are my typical lazy day. I change out of my pajamas just to shower and put a clean pair right back on. I usually get J to run any errands or pick up take out because the thought of cooking leaves me numb. Like, I cooked and cleaned all week, and I know I have to start over tomorrow so today I’m doing nothing!

Well the other weekend I was in a mood. J was out of town and the baby didn’t sleep all that great the night before. We were up and moving before 6 am. By 8 I was bored. I needed to run some errands so I figured early Sunday morning would probably be the quickest. I got the baby dressed and threw on a baseball cap.

FYI if you never wear caps and then suddenly appear with one on, your baby may not recognize you. Then when he does realize who you are, he will be mesmerized by the cap the rest of the day.

We were home from the store a little after 9 and I spent the next 4 hours in the kitchen. I didn’t sit down once and even had to run back to the store a second time. The baby was playing with my list and I guess I forgot a few things… oops!

I really wanted to meal prep a few things to get ready for the next week. With our daily schedules being so crazy lately, I figured I could use all the help I could get. sugarless oatmeal banana cookies for baby  

First up was these cookies for our Baby Boy. I’ve been trying to make sure the food he’s consuming is healthy without a lot of added junk. I love the teething wafers, but sometimes he likes to take off more than he can handle. Then he starts choking and I start panicking. So I don’t give him those too often. We’ve working on his motor skills and I like giving him foods that he can pick up and feed himself with. Usually he ends up feeding the dogs about half of the food, but it’s a learning process.

I scoured Pinterest for a few snack ideas to give to baby. I came across a recipe for baby cookies and decided to adapt it a bit for my little boy. I haven’t actually tasted these to know if they’re good or not, but he seems to really enjoy them! Now in the mornings I can plop him in his highchair, tear apart a cookie for him to enjoy while I pack my lunch and get bottles ready.

What I liked best about these cookies compared to other ones I saw was that the ingredients are pureed pretty good before baking. So there’s less of a chance for him to get choked up. Plus, they’re pretty soft so his little gums can easily mash them down before swallowing. But I have to say my favorite part about these cookies is the fact that there is no added sugar. That’s a huge win for me! All of the sweet comes from the banana.

snacks for toddler
snacks baby can feed themself
healthy snack for baby

Oatmeal Banana Cookies
Serves 18
A delicious sugarless oatmeal banana cookie for your little one. This cookie is soft and chewy, so it's easily ate by your baby.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 c. quick oats, ground in a food processor
  2. 1/4 c. + 1 T. milk
  3. 1/4 t. vanilla extract
  4. 1 banana, mashed
  5. 3 T. butter
  6. 1/4 c. flour (AP or whole-wheat)
Instructions
  1. Grind the oats in a food processor, blender or magic bullet.
  2. Add milk and vanilla, mix again.
  3. Pour ingredients into a bowl with the mashed banana.
  4. Mix together.
  5. Add butter and flour.
  6. Mix to combine.
  7. Scoop onto pan, using the palm of your hand you can smash the cookie to be flat.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Notes
  1. Let cool completely before serving to your little one.
  2. You can easily break these into smaller pieces for easier eating.
Adapted from Food.com
Adapted from Food.com
merelynne http://merelynne.com/

Financially Preparing for Baby {An Update}

financially preparing for baby, an update on how to prepare for baby, how to prepare for baby

My financially preparing for baby post has been repinned quite a bit on Pinterest.  I did a little digging into my analytics and realized how popular this post has been.  I’m not talking viral or anything, but for my little blog it’s a lot.  

financially preparing for baby, an update on how to prepare for baby, how to prepare for baby

I started reading the comments left on my pin, which most were great… Then there was this one.  Most people wouldn’t be upset, but I was.  

My first thought, “who does she think she is?”
I searched her profile and her pins.  I’m a crazy that way.
My second thought was, “she doesn’t even have a blog, who is she judging me?”

I wanted to address the feeling I was having after reading it.

Ahem.

It’s hard to put yourself out there.  To have your thoughts read and critiqued by everyone, people you know personally and people you’ve never met, is hard.  If you aren’t willing to put yourself out there, I think you should keep your mouth shut.

But that was my first reaction.  After I thought about it for a bit, I still feel pretty much the same way.  Okay, okay… maybe not about keeping your mouth shut.  Criticism is okay, if it’s done constructively.  I don’t agree with this woman’s tactics – leaving a random comment, but that’s what I open myself up to by being online.

So I guess I need to have a disclaimer on my blog:

I am not an English professor.  Grammar was not my strong suit in school.  Math was, which might be why I have a Bachelor’s and MBA in business.  It might be why I’m studying to become a Certified Financial Planner and going to school for my accounting degree so I can sit for the Certified Public Accountant exam one day.  Numbers make sense to me, they flow.  Grammar doesn’t.  Ask my 7th grade English teacher because she’ll remember me struggling.

If you find an error on my blog and it bothers you to the point where you would like to make a public comment, that’s fine.  But please shoot me an email at meredith@merelynne.com.  I would like to know so I can learn from my mistakes and make any necessary corrections.  

What the lady on Pinterest did is fine.  But I’ve re-read that post over and over.  I’ve uploaded it to a few different grammar sites to see what was so terrible with it.  I can’t figure it out.  So if you notice an error, please let me know.  

Thank you.

Rant over.  

financially preparing for baby, an update on how to prepare for baby, how to prepare for baby

Let me get back to the topic I am supposed to be talking about.  An update on my post financially preparing for baby.  Let me say you can never fully prepare for a new baby, just as another one’s comment mentioned on Pinterest.  She’s so right!  It’s impossible.  However, our goal was to have money set aside for those things we weren’t planning on.  We didn’t know how our little guy was going to come 3 weeks early, which meant 3 weeks less work for me.  Luckily I had a plan for work while I was on maternity leave, but it wasn’t supposed to start 3 weeks early.  

We didn’t know he would end up in the NICU, which meant more medical bills.  We didn’t know I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed and would have to purchase formula.

If I would have known those things I would have been squirreling away more money.  However, we had a good foundation.  A foundation that helped us cover our medical deductibles without any worry.  Having money set aside helped us, because we saved money on our medical bills by paying in full.  

We lucked out by having a baby that can tolerate most formulas.  We’ve heard stories of special formula costing families close to $100 a week and that was for a newborn!  Our little guy could tolerate most brands without any problems so we were able to go with what was on sale or had coupons for.  Our pediatrician told us baby formula has to go through such a rigorous test and qualifications most of them are going to be so similar.  So find one he likes and stick with it, but don’t be afraid to buy in bulk or on sale.

I like to be transparent so I’m going to talk about the smallest additional cost with having a baby.  Now this next cost didn’t change our budgeting or our spending habits.  But I like to be open.

One of the other costs we didn’t consider was water.  A jug of water costs $0.88 for us.  We are buying 3 every 2 weeks.  Which is less than $100 a year, but it’s still an additional cost we weren’t prepared for.  

With purchasing gallons of water we’ve had to give our little guy fluoride tablets since he’s not getting it from city water.  Again, we’re lucky because insurance covers the cost of his prescription.  

I was able to find a sitter who charged less than the local daycare did.  She is smaller, which I like.  She has a few children as opposed to 10-15 like the daycare has (I know they have multiple caregivers, but it’s still crowded).  My son adores her and loves going to Mrs. Karen’s each morning.  While we were preparing for our son to get here we started saving the amount each week I thought daycare was going to cost us.  We ended up being able to use the savings to help with our medical costs I mentioned above.  It was great.

Overall our preparedness worked great.  Now whenever we want to add something to our budget or splurge, we still use our tricks I talked about:

  1. Make an educated estimate of the cost of the new expense.
  2. Figure it into your monthly or weekly budget at least 6 months before the expense will start.
  3. Physically transfer the money from your checking account into a separate savings account.  We transfer ours into our emergency fund.  

Instead of preparing for our baby’s birth, we’re preparing for summer trips and fun things as a family of three!

 

Surviving Tax Season Like A Boss {A Guide}

surviving tax season like a boss, a guide to surviving tax season

It’s no secret that I work in an accounting, tax and financial planning firm.  I talk about it a lot.  Maybe it’s because I love what I do or maybe it’s because that’s where I spend a lot of my time.  I’m not sure, but either way it’s tax season.  Surviving tax season is a whole thing.  It starts in mid-January and continues until mid-April.  That’s 4 months… 4 months where your life is flipped around.  

I’m not an accountant or tax preparer… yet.  The plan is to become a Certified Public Accountant in the next two years, but first I need to get through becoming a Certified Financial Planner®.  You see, back in college I never dreamed that I would be returning to my hometown to help my Dad in his practice.  That wasn’t in the cards.  Then flash forward 4 years after graduating with my Bachelors and I feel the pull to come home.  

Naturally I didn’t study accounting in college, because why would that be fun?!  I studied Marketing.  Now to sit for the CPA exam I have to have a few more accounting classes.  The plan is for me to get through and pass the CFP exam.  I’ve already taken the courses to prepare for the exam so now it’s just all about passing it.  

Once I get through and earn my CFP designation then I will go back to school to finish those pesky accounting classes before sitting for the CPA exam.  Then when that happens my tax seasons will be even a bit more wild than they already are.

But right now my job during tax season is to review returns with clients, help with any financial planning needs during the next few months and continue rocking our marketing campaigns.  I work 6 days a week.  It’s hard.  I also am studying for the CFP exam and have night class two nights a week.  

I have a lot going on.  So does J.  Our schedules keep us pretty busy and when we have free time we prefer to be doing something as a family.  

Surviving tax season can be rough for those in the field or even connected to the field.  Here are my top 10 tips for surviving tax season like a boss:

  1. sleep when you can
  2. make it clear that you are unavailable starting the second week in January through mid-April to everyone you know
  3. Say goodbye to your Saturday social life
  4. Love what you do
  5. Take deep breaths
  6. Take time in early January to plan the next few months
  7. Learn to say no sometimes
  8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  9. Spend quality time with those you love
  10. Have a daily schedule

Small tips, but they really help.  I’m a huge planner so I need my calendar to be in order at all times.  It helps me from feeling overwhelmed.  At the first of January I sit down to really schedule out the next few months.  I ask myself are there any trips J and I need to plan for?  What days do I or J have classes on?  What about J’s bowling league, what does that schedule look like?  Plan for any doctor appointments for Baby Boy.  And so much more.  

Then I start filling in my calendar.  I’ve used the Purposeful Planner before and really liked it, but this year I’m going to try to stick with all digital.  I’ve setup our Google calendar so that it’s color coordinated.  It can be accessed from anywhere so I don’t always have to haul around a paper planner with me, which is nice.  About a year ago I wrote a post about what my day looks like.  It’s still somewhat similar, but I think it might be time for an update.  Baby Boy wasn’t here yet and our life sure has changed with him being in it.  

I remember that tax season is just the next few months so that means I may have to miss out on a few things, and that’s okay.  I don’t mind.  I really enjoy what I’m doing and love learning something new each year.  Tax season is all about sacrifices, but I still get amazing quality time with my family and the time I get with my friends and other family members is special.  

What are your busy times during the year?  I know when I worked retail that the busy season hit right before Thanksgiving and lasted through Christmas.  It’s all about phases and finding time to balance it all.