Happy 1st Birthday, Nathan!

How can it? How can my baby be turning one already? Everyone warned me how quickly time would pass and it is true. One year ago today, we welcomed Nathan Reagan into our family. God is good. Today, we are celebrating the first year of Nathan’s life. Here is a collage of his monthly pictures so you, too, can see how much he’s grown!

Nathan's 12 Month Collage

He’s grown so much! Nathan’s smiles brighten up the darkest day and a smile is never far from his face. He is truly a people person and our sociable little guy. He loves to cuddle and read stories. Most of all, he loves us – and we love him. Happy birthday, dear Nathan!

Note: Obviously, it’s Nathan’s birthday today but mine falls already next week. It’s also Holy Week and Spring Break in our house. For all of those reasons, I’m taking some time away from blogging this week and will be back again as usual next week. I pray you all have a blessed Holy Week and a joyful Easter celebration! 

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Disney Movie Rewards: 20 Bonus Points

Disney Movie Rewards Logo

 

Here are four new codes to add to your Disney Movie Rewards account for 20 points. This is another great rewards program to join if you have kids. Whether you regularly buy Disney movies or not, there are plenty of free codes available that will allow you to earn free rewards. Here are the four codes – GOLDEN, WHITE, YELLOW and REDCAPE.

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Frugal in Ft Wayne: 3/29 – 4/7

Frugal in Fort Wayne - Top 5 Deals of the Week at Joyfully Thriving

Whew. I just woke up from a wonderful Sunday afternoon nap. Nathan and Andy are still asleep. We’ve had a busy couple of weeks. I’m very thankful it’s now Spring Break and we can rest up a bit! Nathan’s birthday party was wonderful and there is more to come on that. For now, let me share the good deals that are to be found at Kroger this week. We have another Mega Sale going on right now. This time, it’s a “Buy 10, Save $5.” It’s a bit more counting to save $0.50 on each item but the deals are worth it. The promotion price is listed as the final price below. It’s also another 2 week mega sale so there is time to stock up on these deals!

1. Land O’Lakes butter (1 lb) at $2.49
Use $0.50/1 printable coupon
Final price: $1.49 after promotion and coupon

2. Kroger sour cream or cottage cheese (16 oz) at $1.29
Final price: $0.79 after promotion

3. Sargento shredded cheese (8 oz) at $2.49
Use $0.50/1 printable coupon
Final price: $1.49 after promotion and coupon

4. Plum organic baby pouches at $1.49
Use $1/1 printable coupon
Final price: FREE after promotion and coupon

5. Red Gold tomatoes (15 oz) at $0.99
Use $0.55/3 printable coupon
Final price: $0.31 each after promotion and coupon

Bonus Deal – Hormel pepperoni (3 oz) at $1 (Regular sale – Not part of mega sale)
Use $1/2 printable coupon
Final price: $0.50 each after sale and coupon

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1st Birthday Links & Inspiration

1st Birthday Party Links & Inspiration

We’re hosting Nathan’s 1st birthday party today (3 days before he officially turns one). I’ll be sure to update you with pictures and the details behind his party soon. For now, since I’ll be busy in the kitchen today and with our company (my brother and sister – with her husband and son drove up from St. Louis), I’ll share with you some of my inspiration for the party. You can look at these ideas and compare them to my interpretation once I share! :-)

I want to start Nathan’s actual birthday with a crib picture like this and end it with a sleeping one like this. Both priceless!

There were so many adorable chalkboard prints like this so I decided to create my own version. We used it as the invitation and to display. It turned out great – and was much cheaper than ordering it on Etsy (as well designed as that one was)!

Nathan loves books (just like his Mommy) and Little Blue Truck is his favorite. The themed truck ideas were precious but we expanded it into a book party using more of Nathan’s favorite books and some of the ideas here.

Do you want to guess what foods we’ll make for each book? Some of the recipes I’m using are the Pioneer Woman’s macaroni and cheese, mini ham and cheese sliders, and rainbow fruit cups.

baked this layered cake for everyone but of course, I baked a separate little one for Nathan. Betty Crocker had some adorable ideas for smash cakes. Did you know they had an official name like that?

I really appreciated the advice shared about taking professional pictures of a smash cake at home. There was more good advice here and I love the sprinkle idea, too!

I’ve taken pictures of Nathan over the past 12 months so I’ll have those to display. I love displaying the pictures in a big frame but the garland idea was easier to do.

I’ve had fun putting on my creative hat for this party but now I’m simply looking forward to celebrating the day with my sweet baby boy!

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Free Biotrue Contact Solution Sample

Biotrue

If you haven’t tried it before, request a free sample of Bausch and Lomb’s Biotrue Contact Solution. In the past, the free sample has arrived as a full-sized bottle. If you wear soft contact lenses, this sample is for you!

Thanks, Money Saving Mom!

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Friday Freebie at Kroger: Free Ice Tea

Kroger Free Ice Tea

Today’s Friday Freebie at Kroger is for 1 bottle of sparkling Ice tea – any flavor. As usual, the coupon is available to load to your account today only and must be redeemed by April 12.

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End of March Shopping & Nathan’s Birthday

I finished out my shopping for the month and let me tell you straight away – I went over budget this month. We’re hosting a 1st birthday party for Nathan tomorrow and even though I planned ahead the final purchases pushed me over budget. I could have taken the food out of our entertaining expenses but I didn’t. I’ll try to make it up next month by staying under budget.

I made one more price-matching trip to Walmart. I needed more balloons for the birthday wreath I’m making for Nathan. Since I was there, I priced matched Aldi milk (at $1.69) and Kroger cottage cheese (at $1.25). At Walmart, I spent $5.44 on groceries.

Walmart - 3/24/15 - $5.44

My main shopping trip was to Meijer the next day. There were good deals on produce as well as baking products. Here’s what I bought at Meijer.

Meijer - 3/25/15

I bought lots of fruit (clementines, apples, bananas, plums, pears and strawberries) for a fruit salad. Strawberries were advertised as being on sale for $1.50 but when I got to the store, they were actually priced at $1. I also bought veggies for a veggie tray (carrots, celery and cucumber). The frozen corn was on sale for $0.88 so I went ahead and bought 3 bags to make creamed corn next week for Easter. Jimmy Dean was on sale and I used two $1/1 coupons to buy sausage for $2 a pound. Great price for sausage!

I bought 3 dozen eggs since they were priced at $0.99. Another great price! I also stocked my pantry with unbleached flour again. The 5 lb bags of Meijer flour were on sale for $1.39. With baking bread as much as I am, I am going through flour quite quickly so I bought 30 pounds of flour – plus a bag of brown sugar. When I spent $10 on Meijer baking products, I got a $3 catalina off my next baking purchase. Since I knew that, I separated my order and turned right around to purchase the powdered sugar for only $0.69 after the catalina. The baking bar of chocolate is for a chocolate buttercream icing I’m going to make for Nathan’s birthday cake.

The biggest portion of my bill was the ingredients for ham and cheese sliders. That’s the main course for the party. I don’t often buy lunch meat and it’s obvious why when I looked at the prices. The dinner rolls were actually on sale for $0.99 a package. I bought 4 packages. Then, I bought 2 pounds of deli ham ($5.99/lb) and 1 pound of swiss cheese (also $5.99/lb). That accounts for my overage right there. Still, like my husband said, it’s less than ordering a pizza and we’re feeding 20 some people with those sliders.

At Meijer, I spent $66.84. The good news is that this high total earned me another Mperks reward that I can use next month to keep my budget lower!

This March, I spent $222.37. Yes, that’s $22 over my monthly $200 budget. I am going to do my best to make up the difference in April. That’s my personal challenge to myself, even though I can cover the overage. I want to stick to my budget. How did you do this month? Under? Over? Or did you just break even?

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Talking Coupons at MOPS & With You

Notes from Coupon Class

I’m speaking at our church’s MOPS (Moms of Preschoolers) meeting this morning. I was supposed to do this a couple weeks ago but we had a heavy morning of fog that brought us a fog delay – and canceled MOPS. We’re trying again today! We’re all looking for ways to save money and I know it’s easy to be overwhelmed with all the information out there. I’m going to try and provide helpful information and strategies for these fellow moms.

Since I’m speaking with these ladies, I want to share some of the information I’ll be presenting with you. I have covered much of it before on my website, so I’ll share the links to those articles with you.

The focus of this morning is on saving money with coupons! It doesn’t have to be complicated or take a lot of time. It will take practice but anyone can use coupons to save money. In fact, using coupons is one of the quickest ways to see savings in your budget. I’ll share my printable stock-up price list to help everyone find good price points for savings – whether on sale or with coupons. Here are some of the coupon topics I’m covering.

I’m also talking about ways to save and earn money, and sharing a couple of my favorite ways to earn a bit more on the side. Have you signed up for Bing yet? It’s my favorite way to easily earn a $5 Amazon gift card each month. I don’t recommend things lightly, but these are the couple I do recommend. If you haven’t signed up for these yet, there’s plenty of time to sign up now and start earning for Christmas!

Finally, because Moms are always looking to save time as well as money, I’m sharing some of my favorite recipes and kitchen tricks (as time allows). I enjoy baking and like to cook good food for my family. And what workshop would be complete without chocolate?

I’m looking forward to this morning – and wish you all could be here, too! Any questions? Make sure you ask in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer! If you’re not already an email subscriber and you’d like to be, you can sign up in the box on sidebar on my homepage. By signing up, you will receive a daily email whenever there is something new posted – so you won’t miss anything!

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Free Audiobook: The Case for the Real Jesus

The Case for the Real Jesus

Christian Audio’s free download of the month is for The Case for the Real Jesus by Lee Strobel. You do have to subscribe to their email list to get the free download, but I only get one or maybe two emails from them a month. It’s worth it for the free audio books! If you are interested in listening to this at any time in the future, go ahead and download it now while it’s free. It will be stored in your Christian Audio account until you are ready to listen.

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Lessons from the Newborn Days

Lessons from the Newborn Days - There is much to appreciate and learn from those first days, weeks and months when you have a baby. Here are some of the lessons I learned in hopes that it encourages other new mamas.

When I was pregnant, I read lots of books and blogs, all full of advice for pregnancy and parenting. There was so much information about having a healthy pregnancy and countless opinions available on labor. The same is true with parenting and caring for a baby, but there were many things I didn’t know until I did it.

This was a list I began months ago when I was in the midst of caring for my newborn, Nathan. Amazingly, my little, tiny baby will turn one in a week. The past year has flown by. As I look back over the past year, I thought it fitting that I share this list now. These are a couple things I wished others had told me – or the things I wish all mama’s of newborns would know.

You don’t get a medal for having a baby without an epidural. My friend, Allison, wisely told me this piece of advice. If you want to labor without an epidural, that is certainly your prerogative. The same can be said of your decision to have an epidural. I wasn’t planning on having an epidural, but when my labor sped up too rapidly (with contractions every minute when I was only 4 cm) for the doctor’s comfort (and mine!), I opted for an epidural. I was glad I did! My sisters have amazingly labored without epidurals. We all ended up with healthy babies. This is just one of the many difference of opinions but every laboring mama gets to decide for themselves.

Enjoy your time at the hospital with nurses available at any hour of the day or night. Yes, the constant interruptions can be annoying to some but I chose to be thankful for their constant checking up on me. Ask your questions. Accept the advice they give. And be sure to take home the “free” things they give you – like bottles, diapers, pads, and formula.

Lessons from the Newborn Days - Take advantage of your nurses while you can.

If someone offers to bring you a meal, graciously take them up on the offer. It may not be a meal you’d typically cook for your family, but the time spent out of the kitchen is lovely! Even if you have meals in your freezer and feel ready to cook, still accept the gift of a free meal for what it is. A thoughtful gift!

Your baby will take all your time. Find a comfortable spot because you will be spending majority of your days (and nights) feeding your baby. Remember that the typical two hours of a newborn baby’s feeding schedule are from the start of one feeding to the start of the next – so it’s really only an hour and a half break (or less) between feedings. The time between feedings does lengthen as your baby grows. There will come a time when you can do things other than feed your baby.

Learn to appreciate any amount of sleep you can get. It’s been said to sleep whenever the baby sleeps. Sometimes that is possible but sometimes it is not. After waking up multiple times through the night, and with an early rising baby who still likes to wake around 5, I found those early morning naps (around 8am) to be just what I needed before getting started on my day. It’s also important to go to bed earlier in the newborn days because you will be up before you know it with your baby. And most importantly, remember that someday, you will sleep again!

Lesssons from the Newborn Days - Appreciate any amount of sleep you can get!

Whether you breastfeed or use formula, you need to keep your baby well-fed. I planned to nurse and, thankfully, was able to do so for the first 12 months of Nathan’s life. I never anticipated using formula, but due to his unexpected start in the NICU, he did take a bottle. After a week or so, Nathan was a primarily breastfed with only an occasional formula bottle, but I learned not to feel guilty about using formula. That said, just because your baby starts on formula doesn’t preclude you from successfully nursing. On the flip side, a little bit of occasional formula won’t hurt your baby if he / she is hungry! Nursing was the more frugal and convenient option for our family, but I have many friends who have transitioned to formula with their babies just fine.

Stock up on free formula deals before the baby is born. Even if you are not expecting to use formula,you may find you need it. For that reason, accept all the freebie samples that come in the mail, as well as from your doctor, and save them until after the baby is born. If you don’t need them, then you can easily give the formula to a friend who needs it for her baby or donate to a local pregnancy crisis center. You will save a lot of money (for you or someone else) by collecting these formula freebies.

You will question what is normal for your newborn. Should he breathe like that? Is that congestion typical? Are all babies this gassy? Is she eating enough? Is he sleeping enough? Especially if this is your first one, there will be questions. Call your Mom. Ask your doctor. Text your friends. And (cautiously) Google, if only for your own assurance. This is normal to wonder what is normal.

Plan to accomplish only one or two things a day. It may be as simple as showering and unloading the dishwasher. Or perhaps doing a load of laundry from start to finish. Keep your plans simple and you’ll be much happier at what you accomplished. This one was a hard one for me since I was used to accomplishing a lot during my days. You are still accomplishing a lot but most of that is tied to the care of your baby.

Learn how to use a baby wrap. I am convinced this relates directly to the previous lesson. You get more done when you have free arms. A baby wrap / carrier makes that possible. There are countless options! I was given a Baby K’tan and Nathan loved it. I loved it, too! He spent a lot of time in that wrap as a baby. It was a lifesaver in the grocery store and even made our walks to the post office more enjoyable.

Lessons from the Newborn Days - Learn how to use a baby wrap.

Take lots of pictures. There will come a day when you’re not snapping as many pictures as you do in those first days. Keep your camera nearby and take pictures of all those moments you want to remember. Sleeping, tummy time, bath time, in the bassinet, in the car seat, with the pacifier, and of course, take pictures of all the people who come to visit. If you are a video person, do the same. Nathan used to make this sound like a little puppy whenever he started to nurse and I wish we had recorded that sound. Oh, how we laughed!

Write down the firsts and the little (and big) events you want to remember. This is where I didn’t do as good of job as I planned. It’s hard in the sleeplessness of newborn days to keep track of all these things. I wish I would have kept a calendar attached to the fridge where I could jot little notes. I have little notes all over the place but didn’t stick with any one thing….and it’s already hard to remember the specifics of all those little moments I was so delighted by.

You are the Mama that God chose for this baby. No one else can take your place. Trust your instincts. Follow your heart. You will do things different from your Mom, sister, friends and neighbors. It’s okay. Don’t be offended by well meaning advice. You’ll choose to follow some and ignore the rest. Do what works for you and your baby and your family. Do what you and your husband believe is best for your baby!

Lessons from the Newborn Days - You are the Mama God chose for your baby!

Cherish these days because they will be over before you realize it. All too soon your baby will be sitting up and crawling and walking and the memories of these newborn days will fade. I love the quote about time spent raising children, “The days are long but the years are short.” This is most certainly true for life with a newborn.

Those are a couple pieces of advice from a mother who is past the newborn days with her (gasp) almost 1 year old son. What pieces of advice would you add to this list?

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