So, my No Spend New Year is coming to a close, and even though for the most part it's been a lot of fun, it hasn't been without it's temptations and challenges. One of said challenges has been Target's Dollar Spot, and this month it was especially hard to avoid because they had all of their Valentines decor up and it was seriously giving me a case of the love bug! I knew that I'd be so mad at myself if I broke my New Year's resolution on a $3 Valentine's decoration, so instead I set to work to create a fun little Valentine's craft/activity that I could do with H & Emery! I already had all of the supplies needed at home so it was completely free to do, and it makes for a fun little way to save my kid's artwork (or for H's mom to save his since she'll be getting his card soon 😉 ) . For me the biggest challenge was getting the right shaped heart cut out of the paper and free handing the "LOVE" on the front, so to make it easier for anyone reading that wanted to do this with your kids, I've also included a FREE card template that you can print at the bottom of the tutorial so that the hardest part is already completed for you!
skill level: easy | Total Time: 1 hour | Total Cost: FREE
And.... that's it! I know that it's not the most ingenious craft ever blogged about or created, but hopefully at the very least it'll provide a fun afternoon with the kiddos when it's too cold to go outside, or maybe even a cute, handcrafted Valentine to give to grandparents or moms/dads!
Hope you all enjoy! Thanks for reading & happy crafting!
weight & height: 19.8(ish) pounds and 26.75 inches long. We didn't have any doctor's appointments this month so these are just close guesses! eating & sleeping: Along with rice cereal, I've now officially moved into the realm of baby food, and so far I love it! I've only tried sweet potatoes so far but think they're delicious, and ever since learning how to eat from a spoon solid foods have been going well! Sleeping is still going pretty well; I'll still go for about an 11-12 hour stretch at night, and mommy & daddy are currently working to transition me into my flat bed from my rock n' play. exciting firsts/milestones: This last month I had a really exciting first with my first word which was MAMA!!!! Mommy was SO excited to hear that I'd made that my first word of choice, and even though Daddy is excited about it too, he's been consistently trying to get me to say "dada" ever since. 😉 things I love: Right now I love pretty much everything, but a few things that make the top of my list are talking to anyone who will listen, playing with toys, reading books with Mommy & Daddy, and chewing on anything that I can fit into my mouth. I've also gotten quite good at throwing things while sitting in my high chair, and if given toys to hold will throw them off almost immediately. things I don't enjoy so much: The thing that I enjoy the least right now is having to wait longer than a couple of minutes for anything that I'm wanting. Whether it's food, a nap, or just some attention, I've learned how to make quite the scene when I feel like I've been waiting long enough for something. mom & dad's biggest parenting lesson so far: Since I got all better from my cold in December and croup in the New Year, Mommy has noticed that she is feeling like she's finally getting a better routine down that allows her to spend lots of fun time with me, but also allows for her to do things for herself sometimes like reading a book before bed, exercising, or washing her hair & shaving her legs in the same shower. 😉 As hard as it can be for her (and a lot of moms from what I hear) to admit, sometimes taking a little bit of "me time" is exactly what is needed so that a mommy can have the energy needed to do everything she needs to for her kids.
I can't even believe while writing this that our little girl is already more than halfway through her first year of life. I've been flipping through her newborn pictures lately and wondering how on earth our baby has grown up so quickly! As always, thanks so much to everyone for reading and following along on her little journey, your love and support mean the world to us!
Since getting married 3 1/2 years ago (and especially since having a baby), I've really come to appreciate what were once extremely undervalued date nights. After a long week of work/school there's nothing more exciting than knowing that I'll get to spend some quality planned out time with my favorite person doing something that we both enjoy. The funny thing about date nights though is that the older Kyle & I become, the harder time we have actually making date nights happen. We still spend plenty of time together, but especially since Emery has joined our crew we spend much less time together that could be considered an actual "date night", nor do we have tons of extra cash laying around for us to spend on traditional date night activities. Back when we were newlyweds we had a bit more time to each other but still no cash because we were trying to save up for dental school, so we had to get kind of creative when it came to figuring out fun date nights. I decided to resurrect that fun/frugal mindset for our no-spend new year, and set to work to tweak 10 of your "traditional" date night ideas into dates that are slightly less traditional, but still just as fun! An added bonus is that the majority of them are also baby friendly, so if anyone out there is like us where your baby joins you on the majority of your dates, you can know that there's still some fun options out there for you too. 😉
That sums up our date night alternatives! Are there any favorites that you and your significant other have that aren't on my list? If so drop them in a comment below or share your free date nights on Instagram with #nospendnewyear so that we can all share in your fun ideas! I hope that everyone is having a great start to the year! I'd be lying if I said this no spend new year hasn't had a few temptations/challenges that I've had to turn away from, but it feels great to be able to save for a rainy day and still have fun in the process! Here's to the rest of January!
Dear Sweet Mama,
I'm writing to you today to share a short story in hopes that maybe you can relate; so that if you ever find yourself in a similar state of mind or situation, you can find peace in knowing that you're not alone and that you're doing a good job. I heard a statistic that stated that as a parent, one is able to feel higher emotional highs and lower lows than ever felt before having children. Since having Emery I've been blessed with experiences to feel those highest highs, but this last week has shown me what some of those darkest, lowest lows feel like, thus the point in my writing this story....
You see, this last week my sweet baby girl got sick with croup. Although I now know that croup is actually very common in young babies and toddlers, I didn't fully understand it at first, and in my mind my daughter had caught an illness equivalent to polio. The doctor in the emergency room made it sound like Emery's cough was no big deal (which was frustrating because the only reason that we went to the ER in the first place was because a doctor on the phone had told us to go in just in case she had croup) and I felt completely helpless because everything that the doctors were telling me to do to help the cough I already was doing with no success. All I knew for certain was that Emery had an awful cough, that it was the worst at night, and that somehow it had to be my fault that she was sick.
There were so many times in the middle of the night that Emery would wake up coughing and crying, and after calming her down and getting her back to sleep I would lie awake in bed unable to relax because I knew that another coughing attack was only a short 30 minutes to an hour away. It was during those dark hours in the night that I experienced some of those low points mentioned above, and the heavy sense of guilt and self-doubt was almost unbearable. I spent my nights blaming myself for taking Emery out in public too much, letting too many people hold her at the family Christmas parties, and wondering if she would have even gotten sick had she still been on breastmilk as opposed to formula. No matter the scenario I was always in the wrong, and the negativity combined with the lack of sleep wore on me phyisically, mentally, and emotionally.
Now that Emery is finally on the mend and I've had a chance to reflect on the situation with a more clear mind (and after several gentle reminders from my forever patient husband) I've come to learn an extrememly valuable lesson. Occassionaly as a parent, bad and/or scary experiences are going to happen with my children. I'm absolutely positive that there will be more colds, scraped knees, and possibly even another trip to the ER in my child's future and that is OK. It is not my fault, everything will turn out well in the end, and ultimately as long as I'm doing my part to love and take care of my child as much as I can and in the best way that I know how, then I am doing a good job as a mother, and guess what mama, SO ARE YOU. In fact, I bet that you're even doing a better job than you think. Society puts so much pressure on us as women and mothers to be "perfect", and even with how heavy that societal pressure is, I still feel like in many cases it's nowhere near as bad as the pressure that we put on ourselves.
So relax a little bit, go hug your babies tight, and know that you are an amazing woman and mother. If you feel like it, once you've been able to convince yourself of that insanely important truth, go tell another mama you know that they're doing an amazing job too. Despite how much happiness it brings, momming is definitely not the easiest job in the world, and I deeply believe that it's made a little bit easier with support from loved ones and friends. Thank you for letting me share my story with you, and know that I very much consider you a wonderful friend. ♥︎
Before Kyle and I came out to Kentucky, I worked at a credit union for about 3 1/2 years. I worked through a total of four January's, and every year I would see the same trend of individuals coming in to work at their New Year's resolution to reduce the amount of debt that they had accured in the previous year. People would try anything from consolidation loans to cash only budgets, and unfortunately much like most resolutions, I'd see individuals slip back into their old spending habits by Spring to yet another year of overspending. Working so closely with people's finances had quite the impact on me, and that combined with marrying an extrememly frugal/money smart man, changed me from someone who loved shopping and spending to someone who still loves shopping, but also loves to save and enjoys a sense of fnancial security. Last fall, one of my girlfriends mentioned that she was trying to do a "No Spend November" and invited me to join in. At that point in time I had already started on my Christmas shopping and knew that it wouldn't be a realistic goal for me to achieve, but I really liked the concept and decided that it was something that I would still like to try and put into practice at a better time. That better time has come, and I am all set (and four days into) what I'm calling my NO SPEND NEW YEAR! I'm really excited to see the results of my little challenge, and hope that you'll join in on the fun with me! The best part about it? It's free! (Though let's admit it, it'd have to be to be a true no spend challenge 😉 )
So, here's how it will work. For the month of January, starting on the 1st (or whenever you're able to join in) and ending on January 30th, the goal is to not spend any extra or "unneccessary" money. To start the challenge, you'll want to sit down with your finances and first figure out what counts and necessary and what does not. For Kyle and I, it helped to write it down so that we knew for each of us what would need to be to cut out. Here's a basic example of our list:
Once you have your list written out, then the rest of the month is the easiest/hardest part of the challenge, which is to actually stick to your list of needs. It's easy because there's not necessarily any budgeting that needs to be done (which for me is always a challenge because it's so boring and tricky to figure out) but it is tricky becuase it requires having to be honest with yourself when out shopping and deciding what really is a basic need and what fits into what is inevidably the longer list of wants. It's only been four days and I've already had to remind myself that buying new clothes for Emery fits into the "want" catagory because even though clothing is technically a baby need, it's not so much a need when she already has a closet full of clothes that fit her just fine. 😉 I feel like the hardest part about these challenges is that they can sometimes seem to take all of the fun out of life because so many things do cost money (date nights, home decor, new outfits, etc.) which is why the second part of this challenge for me is going to be working to find ways to take the things that would normally cost money in order to have fun, and find different ways to do them for free! Throughout the month I'll be sharing money free ideas for date nights, fashion, home organization, and fitness and maybe even a few other things along the way depending on what I run into! I can't wait to get to the end of the month so that I can see realistically how much Kyle and I could save if we do cut down to just the basics! I know that it's not realistic to have every month be a basics only month, but am hoping that being able to see the savings grow will create a stronger motivation in the future to cut down on a few more of those wants to save for a rainy day in the future. I hope that you'll all join along with me! Do you have anything specific that you'd like to see done in a money free way? If so, I'd love to hear from you! Leave a comment below and I'd be happy to work through the challenge and put your ideas and challenges into a post! Do you have any special secrets on how you do things money free that you'd want to share? If so, email me and let's collab! I can't wait to see what this month brings and what fun things we can come up with along the way!
I'm Chelsea. I'm a wife, mommy, photographer, and lover of life's little adventures. Join me here to celebrate the beautiful things in people and life.