How I Use My Everyday Shopping to Help Save for Christmas

It’s only May, why am I already thinking about Christmas? Because I’m here to share with you how I use a little strategy and a few trusty apps the whole year to help alleviate the financial burden of Christmas.


In the past Christmas has snuck up on me, and then slapped me in the face when it came time to buy presents. (I have a biiiiiig family!) Because I didn’t plan, I became reliant on my good friends, Visa, Chase, and Mastercard. No one wants that (except for maybe the credit card companies)! In addition to a little planning and budgeting I’m able to use the rewards from the below programs towards my holiday purchases. more “How I Use My Everyday Shopping to Help Save for Christmas”

Our Hip Dysplasia Journey


Hip dysplasia??? Until 4 months ago, I had never heard of it either. In the most basic of explanations it’s a misalignment or deformation of the hip socket. While I am not a doctor and am certainly not an expert on this subject, I thought sharing my experience may help another mama (or dad) dealing with their child’s diagnosis and in knowing they’re not alone. more “Our Hip Dysplasia Journey”

Road Tripping With Littles; the good, the bad, and the bonding


On paper the idea seemed nothing short of crazy.  7 days, 4 hotels, 3 cities, 2 small children, (and a partridge in a pear tree).  We turned an out of town wedding invite into a 4 day Disney vacation PLUS a 3 day site seeing tour of the south, ambitious I know.  We could have very easily flown in for the wedding only.  Just the two of us.  A weekend WITHOUT the littles.  Instead we chose to embark on an epic road trip adventure.

DISCLAIMER:  This trip was NOT void of disappointment, crying, miscommunication or moodiness.  We had setbacks; rental car contract mishap, missed reservations, and unexpected weather.  BUT – despite all the chaos – this trip bonded our family.  It brought us back together in a way I didn’t even know that we needed.

Here’s what I learned:

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Half Polished – An Ode to NOT Being Perfect

I had an important baby shower coming up.  The first time the girls were going to see me – out, in public, since having my 2nd child.  I wanted to put my best foot forward, and I wanted to have said foot be freshly polished.  HOWEVER, I hadn’t found an opportunity to get my nails done, (you know the drill – 2 kids, married to a fireman, work part-time, dishes, laundry, cooking, more laundry, more cooking, laundry again, how are they STILL hungry??).  Well, my nails are pretty decent so I thought I’d treat myself to some pampering time after I put the kids to bed.  The truth is I wanted to look my best to show everyone, and maybe even prove to myself, that even though I have TWO kids now, I can still pull it together.  Cue the snickering.

Well after nursing and teeth brushing, diaper changes and showers, prayers (for them, but mostly for me), followed by reading 80652457 stories; It. Was. TIME.  Time for MY pampering moment, my at home spa treatment, my me time.  I made some spa-licous fruit water (OK, it was frozen berries dumped into la croix) and turned on some ravishing reality TV .  I had my whole set up ready, it was GLORIOUS. I actually thought to myself, Melissa, you totally have this two kid thing down, good for YOU!  Cue the gut wrenching laughter.

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Stuck in a ‘mom’ rut? 4 ways to get out and start FRESH!

Typically I thrive on being busy, it’s just who I am.  I say yes to every event, I go to every birthday party, I never miss an opportunity for a gab sesh with my girls.  Then one year ago, that lifestyle finally caught up with me, and I was burnt out.  I needed a break from all the “mommin’”.  What’s ‘mommin’ you ask?  Its the constant busyness of parks, play dates, birthday parties, carnivals, festivals, swim lessons, soccer practice, story times, etc, etc.  All activities I usually loved, but suddenly they felt like exhausting, daunting tasks that I wanted to avoid like the plague.  I slowly started avoiding play dates and fell off track from our typical schedule.  My son was two (slowly crossing over to the terrible side) and I was five months pregnant.  I used that as my excuse; he was having a rough day, I didn’t feel well, I had to get the nursery ready.

Fast forward to December 31, as cliche as it sounds, I started to think about how I wanted this next year to play out.  A new baby was joining our family and I only had 4 months left to make memories with my firstborn.  Like getting the wind knocked out of you it just…hit me, four months.  That’s it?  I was faced with the realization that I had wasted the last two months holed up inside my house avoiding socialization.  I wasn’t going to let these last 4 months pass us by.  I knew I needed a plan, something to follow so I could make a fresh start.  Something to get me motivated and quite frankly, up off of the couch.

I had to adjust my busy ways, and here’s what I came up with:

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Must Have Craft Tools and Supplies



Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase using any of the links below. The selection and recommendation of products is all of my own opinions.


Before we even think about tackling our first craft project together, let’s discuss the basics: supplies!

In the past I would pick up anything interesting, especially if it was on sale. “I’ll totally use this silk leaf shine spray one day!” While some things have been used, most of it resides in the deep, dark, depths of my craft storage with no chance of seeing the light of day. I have learned my lesson and now typically buy supplies solely for my current project. There are a few exceptions to that rule.

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An open letter to my 2nd on your 1st birthday.

I was experienced, but you were brand new. I played on my memory, but attempted to give you your own special moments.  I tried not to think about what your brother had done before you, I tried to let you be you.

You wore headbands, everyday, because I was told you looked just like your brother.  I wanted you to be unique.  I knew what to expect, but you were better than I could’ve ever imagined.

We had time alone but it was served with a side of guilt. Guilt I’d never known before. I needed time with you, but I missed the closeness I had with your brother.  I had complicated emotions.

You didn’t have a sleep schedule. “When does she nap?” In the car…in the stroller…at Target…during her brother’s play date. You were along for the ride.

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DIY Stencil Using Contact Paper and a Cricut

I’m a lucky mom. My kids are amazing (says every mom, everywhere.) But, one thing they aren’t, are good sleepers. Shortly after my son was upgraded to his “big boy bed” he was showing up in my room at all hours of the night. Like a zombie, I’d walk him back to his room and put him back to sleep; sometimes multiple times a night. If I was really tired, I’d give in and let him sleep with me. And if I was really, really tired, I’d wake up in the morning with him next to me not knowing he crawled into my bed.

This was a problem I had to tackle because when I’m fully rested I can take on the world but I am not my best self with extended sleep deprivation. My husband and I tried different approaches and a whole lot of wishing, hoping, and praying. We started saying “I’ll see you when the sun comes up” as our final goodbye when putting him to bed. We figured it gave him a tangible guideline for when it was okay to leave his room. And it seemed to have helped!

Eventually we got him staying in his bed through the night, although I still get the occasional mid-night visit. Two and a half years later, this is something we still say every night! It’s become such an endearing phrase for us so I want to create a plaque to honor it.

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Homemade Lemonade and Strawberries & Lemonade Popsicles

My son’s favorite drink is lemonade. He asks for it everywhere we go. He specifically requests to eat at places he knows has it (I’m looking at you Chick-fil-A.) Recently, my husband explained to him that it’s just lemons, water, and sugar. You would have thought we told him the secret to eternal life. He would randomly and repeatedly tell me how lemonade is made. Finally, I asked him if he’d like to make it himself. He was ecstatic!

It’s an easy activity your kids can help with. My son loved rolling the lemons on the counter to loosen the juices and twirling the lemons around on top of our hand juicer! Making lemonade is his new favorite activity. more “Homemade Lemonade and Strawberries & Lemonade Popsicles”