Our dear friend Britt, who we also asked to be LL's Godmother, came and took newborn photos of our sweet girl a few days after she was born. Britt is ridiculously talented in any context, but she has a serious gift for shooting newborns. We absolutely love the photos she took. Here are a few (a lot) of my favorites!
If you are like us and spent too many dollar bills on Christmas (and the new bed purchase that we unexpectedly got to make...), you may be looking for some money saving tips in the new year.
Here are a few of my favorites.
* Ebates. I have blogged before about my love of ebates. There are no catches or gimmicks. It literally just gives you cash back when you shop online. I made $100 back in the last quarter. All you do is sign into ebates and then go from their website to the store you want to buy something from. That's it. Just proceed to shop online like you normally do. They will send you your cash back credit (usually from 1% to 10% depending on the day and the store) by check every quarter. If you use my referral link to sign up you will get $10 cash back when you use it for the first time and I will get a small referral fee. Try it. Trust me.
* Ibotta. My friend at Almost Gypsy Soul told me about this and in the last month, I've earned $15. You just get the app and check out their various rebates at a bunch of stores. Looks to me like it has the most for grocery stores and places like Wal-Mart/Target. When you buy something with a rebate, you scan the bar code on that item with your phone, take a picture of the receipt, and your account is credited. You get $10 for signing up and entering your first purchase. Here is my referral link This one takes a little more effort and the return isn't as high, but every little bit helps!
* Target Red Card and Cartwheel. If you shop at Target, get the Red Card. I don't like store credit cards so I resisted forever. So stupid. It automatically gives you 5% off every purchase in store or online and free shipping online. Don't like credit cards? No problem. You can select a debit card option and it works just like your regular debit card. This year alone, I have saved over $150.
Also, Target has Cartwheel, an app on your phone where you can get additional money off certain items. It's a pain to have to search every item you put into your shopping cart while in the store, but I love saving my pennies, so I do it.
* Watch for freebies. I know that the spam emails you get advertising deals from various stores are annoying, but if you keep an eye out, you can find some good stuff! I bet you 3/4 of my underwear came from the free pair coupons that Victoria's Secret sends out. And Shutterfly offers a free gift about once a month. I have ordered a ton of addreee labels, large photo prints, and photo books all for free. At my grocery store, they periodically do a buy one get one free on fruit like blueberries or strawberries. I always just freeze the free pack to use later. Keep an eye out for freebies when they pop up!
* Pay attention to sales. There are some stores at which you should never pay full price. Hobby Lobby is a great example. Every two or three weeks, basically any item you want will go on 50% off. always has a 40% off coupon online. If you go in and something is full price, give it a week or two and it will be half off. Or, if you need it right away and can't wait, there is always a 40% off coupon available online. Bed Bath and Beyond always sends out emails or hard copy $5 or 20% off coupons each week. Carter's will always have a 25% off coupon and quite frequently they have a sale where the entire store is 50%. Get to know what your favorite stores offer and when to take advantage.
* Southwest credit card. Two caveats here right off the bat. First, we pay our credit card off every month, without exception. This means we do not ever pay the insane 20% interest fee charged. If you are not a person who can watch the balance and pay it off each month, don't get the card. Second, there is a yearly $99 fee. In general, we don't have any cards with fees. But because of how much we gain in rewards, it's way worth the fee for us. You may want to do the math on this for yourself. Also, I know other cards offer various cash back options, but I only have the Southwest card so that's all I know.
You get 1 point for every $1 you spend on the card (some things like Southwest tickets get more) and 1 point per mile you fly. You can redeem these points for free flights (my favorite!) or you can get gift cards from basically any store you can think of.
Before LL was born, I cashed in points and got like $200 in gift cards to buy diapers with, just from my points.
Last year, we started a Christmas tradition of buying fun holiday jammies and a Christmas book for BB.
I loved this, but when you wait to open this present until Christmas Eve, you don't get to wear those jammies near enough.
So...this year, I decided that we would celebrate the Feast of Saint Nicholas with the Christmas jammies and book. That way, not only do we get lots of use for our gifts during the holiday season, but we also celebrate a Saint who was known for gift giving.
This year, we went with a deer theme for the Christmas jammies for both BB and LL. We went with a sure-fire hit for the book: Tractor Mac Saves Christmas.
BB was quite excited to finally get to open one of the presents he has been eying under the tree.
BB immediately headed right for Dad's lap with his book to hear the story.
And then, the new Christmas jammies were put on and Mom insisted on some pictures.
This is one of my favorite traditions and I cannot wait to continue it in the years to come.
I wanted to do a typical day post to remember what maternity leave is like this time around. Chaos pretty mush sums it up.
LL usually wakes up for a bottle between 7:00 and 7:30. BB is up shortly there after. Usually once we are all awake, we head to our room and chill for a bit in our bed. Then everyone gets a clean diaper and LL gets dressed.
Then while LL naps, BB and I have some breakfast. He has milk (lately with a splash of chocolate to get him to drink it) and some combo of pancakes, waffles, French toast, eggs, pbj, yogurt, or nutrigrain bar.
After breakfast, BB gets dressed and the fun begins. I work on things like making the bed, laundry, picking things up, paying bills, etc. on a good day (like yesterday), I work on one additional project like baking cookies for a friend of ours or Christmas gift planning.
Meanwhile, BB is usually causing chaos all over the house and LL takes a bottle every 3 hours. You never know where you will find him.
For lunch, BB usually eats cheese and turkey, maybe a cheese quesadilla or grilled cheese, or sometimes leftovers from the night before. After lunch, he goes down for a nap that lasts between and hour and an hour and a half. Sometimes, I get them both sleeping at the same time, which is awesome!
If I slept okay the night before, I either hold LL and watch tv or scramble to pick up BB's morning mess. If it was a long night, I join in the napping.
After naps, BB's playing and destruction resume. Tractors and balls remain his favorite toys. I encourage playing blocks or trains, as those are my favorite.
He is now climbing on everything, so trying to keep him from crashing and burning feels like a full time job.
Our excitement level rises when Dad gets home. It has been unseasonably warm, so the boys usually head outside for a while to feed the dogs, check cows, and play in the rocks and dirt. I cannot wait for LL to get a little older and the weather to be a little warmer so we can all do this together.
While the boys are out, LL and I usually start dinner. When they come back in, BB has his favorite snack, Mott's fruit snacks.
Then it's on to dinner, baths about every other night for BB (usually by Dad) and every third night for LL (usually by mom), and then hanging out in the living room watching TV and playing.
Both kids go down for the night between 8:30 and 9:00. After that, I usually clean up the kitchen, do dishes, fold laundry, and get things ready for the next day. Then we are usually in bed by about 10:30 or so.
LL is usually up once for a bottle around 3:00. Some nights it's twice ( around 1 and again around 4). BB has been sleeping so well, but lately that's gone to crap and he is up at least once a night.
So there you have it. Another day in paradise. LL is the sweetest, easiest baby. BB makes life fun and exciting. We are so blessed!