Rainy Day Family Fun

I hope no one minds too much, but I plan to get back to a few personal posts intermixed with the recipes and DIY. Blogging about our family is where this little blog started and over the years it’s been lost a little along with my passion for blogging. I’m hoping sharing a little bit more about our life with you along with the DIYs and recipes will help reignite that love of keeping in touch!

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The weather here in Atlanta has been all over the map lately. We were in shorts about a week ago, but this weekend it was cold and rainy so we spent our Saturday morning hanging out inside. It was kind of nice. We had gone out to dinner Friday night to celebrate III. After putting in months of hard work he was rewarded with a promotion. We are so proud of him!  Saturday morning we slept in (until 7:45!) and cooked breakfast at home. (I am LOVING these new Pioneer Woman bowls from WalMart!)

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Since it was raining we spent time int he playroom and Sprout pulled out one of his FAVORITE books as of late. 

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Have yall read We’re Going on a Bear Hunt with your little ones? It’s a sweet story of 5 siblings ad their dog who head out on a fun adventure to find a bear. It’s got repetition which kids love and lots of fun onomatopoeias! I strongly recommend adding this one to your library if you haven’t already. The kids do happen upon a bear in a cave and things get exciting.

The cave prompted our kids to want to build a pillow cave or fort (which Chickadee calls a “fork”). Also one of our favorite to do when it’s cold and rainy.  III love putting on his architect hat to help them build quite elaborate caves.

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We all played in it for a while before I mentioned to the kids that we found the book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt turned into a sweet little video on Amazon Prime. Did you know you can watch thousands of things on your television as part of your Amazon Prime membership? If you want details, read a little more about it here

It was SUPER cute and the kids loved watching in their own cave. Between reading the book, building and playing in the cave and watching the video we were able to pass over an hour of our time stuck inside on this cold and rainy morning and more importantly enjoy time as a family! You could of course also go on your own bear hunt as well. Maybe hide a teddy bear, turn out the lights, and use flashlights to see who can find the sneaky bear!

Hope you have a fantastic week! I’ll try and stop back by later this week to share a fun little Valentine’s craft for the kiddos. 

Aaron’s Big Score for a Big TV Social Sweepstakes!

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September is FINALLY here and that can only mean one thing…pumpkin spice lattes! Just kidding, it’s still 90 degrees here….no, it means FOOTBALL IS BACK! And in this household we take it seriously. In the fall I would almost say it’s a way of life. Weddings are planned around it, Saturdays are devoted to it, team colors fill our closets, & having a BIG television to see the game is top priority! And I have some good news for you. During the month of September, Aaron’s will be adding to the overall excitement by giving away four 75” TVs to celebrate their #BigScore promotion. It doesn’t get much better than that! Enter here 

Here are my two favorite Auburn fans :) Chickadee has started to learn the fight song, and hearing her sing “Power of Dixie Land!” might be the cutest thing ever. Sprout is a sucker for Aubie the tiger. We are raising them right! War Eagle! 

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Now that we have kids we usually stay close to home to cheer on our Auburn Tigers, but when we do make it down to the loveliest village on the plains we tailgate in style, RV style! And the food spread is like nothing you’ve ever seen. 

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 Tailgates are such an awesome time to come together with friends new and old and celebrate your friendship while cheering on your favorite team! We are actually getting together with our Sunday school class this Saturday to tailgate and celebrate the kickoff of football season.

So do you have a favorite team? What are your plans to watch the game this weekend?

Make sure and head over to Aaron’s to enter to win that BIG 75″ TV. Then next week the party can be at your house!!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Aaron’s Inc.. The opinions and text are all mine.

 

Playroom Bookshelves

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When we were looking for a house last year, I had a few things on my “Must-Have” list: a family friendly neighborhood, at least 4 bedrooms, an open kitchen and A PLAYROOM. I lived the first 18  months of Chickadee’s life with our living room also serving as our play space and if I was fortunate enough to be given the choice, I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I wanted a space for the kids to just be, as well as a place that at the end of the day I could close the door or walk away and not be surrounded by Fisher Price & Melissa & Doug (although they are my best friends during waking hours!). So when we found our home I fell in love with the formal living room playroom. It is right off the kitchen which is awesome…has tons of natural light which makes me happy…and it’s great space for the kids to play!

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I hope to share the whole room with you soon. We painted, added curtains (using a KING sheet), designated an art space, and created a reading nook.

Over a year ago I found these awesome plate racks at Goodwill for $9 each. Similar shelves sell for 10x that price at places like Pottery Barn, so I was flying high after bringing these home. I never intended to use them as plate racks though, bookshelves were always the life I had planned for them. However, life set in, Sprout was born, and I never got around to painting them…until the other weekend.

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They got three coats of straight up white paint and some picture hooks attached to the back. We then hung them in a corner by the window and filled the shelves with some of our favorite books.

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Chickadee LOVED waking up from her nap to find her new shelves in her reading corner; it was like all of her books were opened for the first time again. In my opinion a child can never have too many books! Here are a few of our favorites.

The Giving Tree | The Very Hungry Caterpillar | Goodnight Moon | The Velveteen Rabbit

The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name | The Polar Express | Press Here

 The Kissing Hand | Guess How Much I Love You |  Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

You Art My Heart | I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love | ALL Curious George

8 Stay at Home Date Night Ideas

*Disclosure: The post is sponsored by XFINITY, but opinions as always are all my own! I am thankful to work with companies that provide my family with a little extra spending money and for readers like you who come and see what I have to say. 
 
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Yall, Valentine’s Day is ONLY 3 days away. It sneaks up on me every year! We have an annual Valentine’s tradition of going to Felini’s, a local pizza place here in Atlanta. It started before we were even married…we had a reservation at a fancy restaurant a few days after Valentines, but no plans for the actual day. We went to a restaurant around the corner from my apartment, but it was packed and without a reservation we weren’t getting in. So instead we went across the street to Felini’s and we’ve spent every Valentine’s Day there since. However, this year we have moved a little further out from the city so we probably won’t make the trek. And with two kiddos 2 and under I’m actually not sure we’ll even leave the house…instead I have a feeling we’ll put the little ones to bed and have a fun date night at home.

What about you? Do you have big plans or will you be kicking it low key with me? If you choose the later, here are a few ideas to help make the evening LOTS of fun and full of LOVE!

1. Play a Board Game – our favorite is Scrabble. III actually gave me the coolest Scrabble board ever for our anniversary one year. It spins! So pull out your favorite board game or a deck of cards and have a little friendly competition.

2. Cook a nice dinner together – If you have kids, feed them early. Then after they are asleep fire up the grill or start chopping some fresh veggies. Put a tablecloth on the table, like some candles, and maybe even pull out the china. Enjoy each other’s company.

3. Bake dessert – Choose something sweet and delicious, tie on the aprons and start baking.

4. Project Night – some might not see this as fun, but we both LOVE accomplishing things around the house. Plus we usually have great conversation when we are working!

5. The Great Outdoors – get the fire pit going, pour a glass of wine or if you are me, a coke! and enjoy a nice conversation under the stars.

6. Campout – Get a fire going, use coat hangers for the marshmallows and make some smores in the living room. I’m not sure it gets anymore fun than that!

7. The Dating Game – Do you remember when you first started dating and you could talk for hours, answer tons of questions to learn about each other and never repeated a story they already had heard? Try to take yourselves back to that time. You might think you’ll know all the answers to each others’ questions, but maybe those answers have probably changed.  1001 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married is a great question source. Your answers might just be surprising.

8. Movie/TV Night & Popcorn – This one is probably the most obvious, but you might be missing out if you think too simple here. For this date night don’t you want to be able to choose from the most options on TV? Let me introduce you and your date night to XFINITY On-Demand and their massive library of more than 150,000 choices. Think of all the date nights you could have working your way through that many movie and television series options.

Google Fiber is starting to make their way to our area and I must admit I am VERY intrigued. I’ve been doing a little research and recently found that their “on-demand” library only houses about 17,000 titles. That is  close to 130,000 less than XFINITY. I will definitely keep that in mind as I make a provider decision.

XFINITY also has an app in case you want to spend this movie night snuggled up under the covers. (and if you are ever away from home you can also download lots of titles and watch them as you travel)

My suggestions for your Movie/TV Night from the XFINITY On-Demand Library are

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III and I are OBSESSED with this show right now. Neal was/is a conman who was finally caught by FBI agent, Peter Burke. Now they work together solving white collar crimes. It’s amazing. This one is a TV series, so make sure you are willing to commit to a little binge watching before you start!

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This one is a little cheesy, but PERFECT for date night. Valentine’s Day follows the intertwining storylines of a diverse group of folks as they navigate their way through romance and heartbreak over the course of one Valentine’s Day.

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Your husband will thank you for this one! And I must admit I enjoyed it too :) As the US government creates a force known as Ultron, The Avengers are told they are no longer needed. But when Ultron turns against humanity, The Avengers must assemble again for their most dangerous challenge yet.

How awesome that you can watch all of these (an MORE) with XFINITY On-Demand.

So if you can’t get out this Valentine’s Day or your next date night, don’t despair! Choose one of these 8 great options, or come up with one of your own (I’d love to hear about I). Date nights are so important to reconnect and focus on one another. ENJOY!

XFINITY partnered with bloggers such as me for this program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about any product mentioned in these posts. XFINITY believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. XFINITY’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

Financial Tips to Help You Stay at Home

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We always knew when kids became a part of our story that we wanted to make it possible for me to stay at home. A year or so before I became pregnant with Chickadee we decided we would go ahead and try living on only one income to see if our dreams could become reality. What a HUGE challenge this way. We were going to start thinking about money differently. But we were determined with with a little budget tightening and cost cutting we figured out how to make it work. Fast forward about a year and a half later and I was finishing out my last school year as a teacher and looking forward to an arriving bundle of joy that fall! Let the crunch time begin! 

My first step was brainstorming in the areas we could save money (even if it was just a little bit). Small savings in lots of places can really add up!

Look for where you can pay less Call all the folks you pay bills to. See if you can get a lower gas rate, a better deal on cable (or cut it all together), a cheaper cell phone plan (Costco has a counter where they will compare them all), or a deal for bundling your insurance. You can always save money in these areas. The retention folks are your best bet for how low these costs can really be!  

Grocery Shopping Now you can definitely cut coupons, but I currently don’t have time for all the work involved. I do try to do the digital ones for the stores where I grocery shop. I also try and make our meal plan from what is one sale at the grocery store. I make a list and stick to it. I often buy the store brand. At my store the Buy One Get One deals….you can just by one and get 50% off. Also there are lots of options out there to buy in bulk. Take advantage of Costco, Sams, Amazon Subscribe & Save, etc. for items like paper towels, toilet paper, garbage bags, detergent, etc.

Create a Budget I married an accountant, so we’ve been using a budget since day one. We have a certain amount set aside for each category (food, clothes, utilities, entertainment, gifts, tithe, etc.) so we can see where our money is going. It helps us decide where we can continue to cut, but also lets us see our progress in saving in different areas. Seeing the fruits of your budgeting is very rewarding. 

Buy Consignment We buy  A LOT of things on consignment to help save money and ease the financial stress spending causes. I am a part of a Facebook group in my area where folks are all the time selling kids clothes and toys. They also sometimes sell furniture, art, books, etc. There are so many good deals out there….also check out yard sales and second hand stores! And remember, when you outgrow or no longer have a need for items you can sell them and make money as well.

Live Below Your Means Saving for a rainy day (or a sunny one!) is important. A surprisingly large amount of Americans are living pay check to pay check. Try and save with each pay check, $25 a month is an easy place to start. Then grow from there. I remember when we were looking at new cars a few years ago. I really wanted a Lexus SUV….my husband brought me down to reality “Ummm, we aren’t Lexus people.” Truth. Just because you have it doesn’t mean you should always spend it. And in the same breath, if you don’t have it…don’t spend it. DON’T get caught in credit card debt. We use credit cards and reap the point benefits. However, we pay it off every single month. Living below your means is essential to savings and alleviating financial stress. 

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I wanted to stay home and raise our kids. For me these are the moments in life that really matter. Can you identify with our story? So what would be your first step? SunTrust is also here to help. So take a step, then another – each action will increase your confidence and move you toward financial well-being. 

Here are the facts:

Over 70% of Americans are financially stressed
12% of Americans skip going to the doctor because of financial concerns
80% of people admitted that their personal finances keep them awake at night
21% of couples who rate their financial stress as at least “somewhat high” are arguing more
32% of adults say their finances keep them from living a healthy lifestyle

 Yall, this is not okay! 

During the Super Bowl (on SUNDAY!) SunTrust will share for the first time their #onUp movement. They want to encourage Americans to take control of their finances and life a life well spent. Will you take the pledge? SunTrust is hoping to get 5 million Americans on board! Want to join the movement? Sign up here.

At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. When you feel confident about your money, you can save for your goals and spend knowingly on what matters most to you.  

The onUp movement was created to guide millions of people one step at a time towards a more financially confident life without ever losing sight of the moments that matter along the way.

Join the growing number of people transforming their stress into positive motivation to move onUp.

Join the movement

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust. The opinions and text are all mine.