July 2, 2015

Family Summer Bucket List

My daughter always complains that we never do anything fun during summer break. So, this year, I created a "Summer Bucket List" that we can all enjoy as a family to make this summer a memorable one!

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It's a simple list of 31 fun family activities. Most of the activities are free or require little cost. The Paint with Ice Cubes activity is a fun art project for those hot summer days. I will write about it in another blog post. Also, the 31st activity I listed is at the very bottom and it's an "Unplug Day". It'll be a day where all electronics are turned off! We'll have to entertain ourselves like cavemen used to do! Oh the horror! Just kidding, kind of.

We won't be doing this list in order. The goal is just to cross off as much of the list as we can before the summer ends and make some wonderful new memories along the way. I hope we can try and do something everyday or at least every other day.

I know summer started last month, so I am a little behind, but we still have another 7 weeks of summer break to do all 31 of these activities. Wish us luck!

November 20, 2014

How-To: 31 Days to an Organized Home

With every ring of a new year, new resolutions are made. For some it's to be healthier. For others it's to budget better (which was our resolution last year: Our Debt Payoff Plan). For me, in 2015, I want to be organized.

Organization is not an easy task and every parent knows that the balance of happy children and a clean/organized home is a tough one.

However, next year I will be challenging myself to become an “Organized Modern Mommy”. I definitely won't be able to organize everything all at once, but I do have a 31 day plan for December that I hope will help me reach my goal. By the time the new year comes around, I will have a clean bill of organization that I can hopefully maintain throughout the new year.

All I have to do is tackle ONE area of our home each day in December. 31 days. 31 areas. It’s as simple as that.

Well, actually it’s really not that simple because, for many, organization isn't something they’re born with. It’s not something that comes easy for them. And like me, there just never seems to be enough time!

Nonetheless, I do believe that every person is capable of accomplishing at least one task each day. Don’t overwhelm yourself with 50 million things on your to-do-list (like I normally do). You will only discourage yourself from your ultimate goal. By focusing on only one area each day and finishing it in its entirety, I know that I personally would feel much more accomplished than if I was able to do 2 or 3 things on my to-do-list but still had 9 other things that I wasn’t able to get to.

In essence, I am trying to trick myself. It may seem like one small accomplishment, but with each task I complete, it will ultimately accumulate to the point where my ENTIRE house will be clean and organized within only 31 days!

I am challenging myself and asking you to join me!

I have divided the areas of my home into 31 different sections. My goal is to organize one section each day until my whole home is done! My motto: Slow and steady wins the race!

Challenge: I do work full time, Monday-Friday, and I am also attending night classes 4 times a week until December 11th, so it will be a very difficult challenge for me, but there are some smaller tasks (such as purses and candles/scents) in my challenge that I know I will be able to fit within my small window of free time during those days. I will probably save the more complicated things (such as our garage and backyard) for the weekends. Also, since I don’t want to take any precious time away from my husband and kids when I'm home, this will definitely be a group effort and be a learning lesson for our whole family. As long as I follow this plan, I should have a clean and organized home by the time 2015 rolls in and you can too!

TIP: I will most likely not do it is in this order. You can adjust the list per your needs. As long as you are able to do one thing each day, you will stay on track to an organized home! What I'll do to keep track is probably write one task each day on my December Calendar and make sure it is something I can do per my hectic schedule.

Please take this challenge with me and share your personal organization tips and tricks in the comments section below!

September 3, 2014

DIY Lunch Menu (Free Word File)

No more lunch complaints! This "DIY Lunch Menu" allows our daughter to have a say in her lunch options but still gives my husband and I full control of what she can choose from! Yes, we are sneaky!

We no longer hear, "Peanut butter and jelly AGAIN?!" or "Lunch wasn't very good". Instead, our daughter chooses what she wants based off the menu we made together and now we are ALL happy. She can choose her lunch depending on what she's craving and we know that she's choosing a balanced meal.

We let her choose one protein, a carb, a fruit, a veggie, and a treat. We only let her drink water at school, so I don't have a "Choose a Drink" portion, but any parent can easily modify theirs to have it!

Here is the lunch menu that we made with our daughter:
The DIY Lunch menu we made with our daughter
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The proteins that have an asterisk (*) are only allowed to be accompanied by chips since we felt like the meal already had a lot of carbohydates. If she chose a protein that didn't have an asterisk, then she could choose a carb to pair with it.

We used the menu for the first time on her 1st day of school and I was able to prep everything the night before. In the morning, I just had to put everything in her lunchbox with her ice pack and she was good to go!

It's also a great shopping list when you go to the store so it helps you make sure to always have these ingredients on hand! 

Our daughter's most recent lunch choice: Ham and cheese sandwich, chips, straw berries, carrots w/ ranch, and a rice krisie treat!

YUM! She loved it!

Below is the word file of the menu template we made. You can download it and either print it out yourself (we printed it on cardstock and hung it on our fridge door) or modify it to accommodate your family's lunch choices!

I hope this makes lunch prep a lot less stressful! It has helped make lunch prep at our house a more enjoyable experience! There are no longer any complaints about what our daughter had for lunch! Make sure to create the menu WITH your children! Good luck!

June 29, 2014

I'm Proud to Run "Like a Girl" and You Should Be Too!

I never thought I would be so inspired by a tampon commercial, but this really hit a nerve with me!

I have no idea what this really has to do with tampons, but it definitely kept my attention!

I have a daughter who is 7-years-old and I NEVER want her to think that doing anything "like a girl" is embarrassing or less than!

I am proud of my daughter for doing things "like a girl"! She's amazing!

My daughter does things "like a girl" and is proud of it!

Me and my 3 sisters were raised to be strong, confident women! I want my daughter and all little girls to grow up the same way! The stigma that comes with the phrase, "like a girl" is hurtful and needs to stop! But, the only way for that negative connotation to go away is to show the future generation of women that doing anything "like a girl" is not something to be ashamed of!

If you have a daughter, this video is a must see! Watch it together!

May 29, 2014

How-To: Car-Themed Birthday Party on a Budget

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We threw our son a car-themed birthday party this past Memorial Day weekend and he, along with our wallets, appreciated it!

We wanted our son to have an awesome 2nd birthday party, but since we are currently in the middle of our $15,000 Debt Pay-Off Plan in 18-Months, we had to get creative on how we could do more with less!

Therefore, Pinterest became my co-party planner! You can view my car-themed Pinterest board here: Liam's 2nd Birthday Party. I was able to find other mom's party ideas and they inspired me come up with a few ideas of my own! You can find more information under the captions of each photo!

In the end, we were able to budget all the decor, invitations, cake, goodie bags, activities, drinks, AND food for only $125 out of pocket, which isn't bad considering in previous parties, I used to spend $120 on just the cake and catering alone!

I probably could have spent even less, but some things I had to pay someone to make for me (like the car photo booth and banners). It's not that they were hard to make, but since I had finals for school and was busy at work, I needed the extra help to make sure everything was ready in time!


Here's a cute photo idea for invitations: Our handsome boy posed with toy cars (many of which I borrowed since I didn't have enough) shaped in the number 2 for his birthday invitations! I took the photo myself and e-mailed the invitations out to save on printing and photography costs! - OUT OF POCKET COST: $0

Car Photo Booth: This was an idea that I found on the site: See Suzy Spin. She created a car shaped photo booth that I loved! I wanted to incorporate it in our son's party as a fun way to keep record of every guest that came and for them to have a fun memento! We even threw in some props to make it a little more silly! I had my sister take the photos for us as a "gift" to our son rather than spend money and rent an actual photo booth or photographer! - OUT OF POCKET COST: $17 - $15 to have the car made (you can save even more by doing it yourself out of cardboard) and $2 for the props (bought at the dollar store).

Photo Booth Backdrop: As a backdrop for the photos, I decorated the wall with road signs that I printed and a banner that I custom ordered! - OUT OF POCKET COST: $5 for the banner - You can easily make it yourself with cardstock and ribbon!

Here are some samples of the fun photos our guests took in our photo booth! We placed the photobooth at the entrance so it would be the first thing everyone did!

It was a big hit! I plan on printing each picture and making an album as a keepsake for our son!

Racetrack Cupcake Cake: I am a HORRIBLE baker, so rather than risk getting everyone sick (lol), a friend of mine volunteered to help me with my son's birthday cake! (Thank you Heather!) She made vanilla and chocolate flavored cupcakes from scratch and organized them into a 2! She also made extra cupcakes since the "racetrack" only consisted of 15 cupcakes. Then the next night we went to her house and had a Frosting Party where we worked together with my sister-in-law to frost all of the cupcakes! She added food coloring to the frosting to create the road and piped the frosting to create the green shrubbery and white road lines. Right before the party, I added the cars , made a "start" and "finish" sign for the track, and put checkered flags on the cupcakes to give it a more uniformed look. The cake turned out yummy and everyone thought it was super cute! - OUT OF POCKET COST: $5 - $4 for the frosting and $1 for the toothpicks. I already had the cars, my friend already had all the cupcake ingredients, and the flags I made myself so I saved a lot that way! I printed the checkered flags on paper and taped them onto the toothpicks! I used an old baking sheet covered with tinfoil as the cake base.


The Snack Bar: This was our table display of all the food. Note: The paper plates in the colors of a stoplight was a fun extra detail! - OUT OF POCKET COST: $65 - This includes the cost of not only food but also for plates, napkins, utensils, and the table cloth (which was bought at the dollar store to save money). Since we made many of the food ourselves, we were able to create a menu within our budget. Howerver, 2 of the dishes were catered but I saved money on them because I asked my mother to pay for them as a "gift" for Liam. It helped our costs greatly and ensured that we had enough food for our 60+ guests!


"Veggie Vehicles" - Made of celery, carrots, and peanut butter!

"Veggie Vehicles" - The celery was covered in peanut butter and the toothpicks held the carrots to create "wheels". A small carrot was placed on top for the "seat."

"Wagon Wheels" - Mac & cheese, but rather than using traditional macaroni, I used wheel-shaped pasta to stay within the theme!

"Saucy Signals" - We wanted the dips to remind people of streetlight signal colors, so we used salsa (red), queso dip (yellow), and guacamole (green) to create the illusion of a streetlight!
"Mater's Taters" - Potato chips for the saucy signals!

"Rubber Tires" - Chocolate covered donuts!

"Streetlights" - We put strawberry, pineapple, and green grapes on a skewer to match the color scheme of a stoplight!

"Steering Wheels" - Tortilla pinwheels made with ham, turkey, Swiss cheese, and romaine lettuce with a cream cheese and bell pepper spread. They were the first things gone! I will be sharing the recipe on my blog soon! Cheap and very easy to make!

"Gasoline" and "Antifreeze" - For the gasoline we made lemonade and for the antifreeze I bought Hawaiian Punch Blue Polar Blast juice!


Food labels: I found a blog that created awesome Car themed printables. You can download the labels for free here: Yvonne Byatt's Family Fun. I just downloaded them and modified them in Paint to match my specific menu! Then I printed them out on cardstock and they turned out great! OUT OF POCKET COST: $0

Here is a cute checkered banner that I custom ordered for my son's birthday party! I used it as decor above the Snack Bar and Photo booth. OUT OF POCKET COST: $5 You can easily make it yourself with cardstock and ribbon!

Banner and Road Signs: I printed a bunch of road signs that I googled on the internet and used them as decor all over the house! As for the banner, I printed it on cardstock and used it as decor in our backyard. OUT OF POCKET COST: $0

"Road" Walkway: As soon as you enter our house, there is a long hallway you walk through, so we decided to make it look like a road! Another reason we did it this way was since most of our house is carpet and the party was both inside and outside, we didn't want people to have to keep putting on and taking off their shoes! With this "road", they were able to keep their shoes on the whole time without making my carpets dirty! We made a road from the entrance that led into the main area of the snack bar and also a road that led to the bathroom. It added to the ambiance of the theme and also gave a functional use! - OUT OF POCKET COST: $13 - We bought black plastic sheeting (found in the paint section of Walmart) for $10 and bought yellow painters tape for $3. Then we just cut the plastic to fit into our areas and used the tape to separate the roads. It was super easy and I loved how it turned out!

Since it was a "road" I made street signs at the intersection telling people the direction to the Snack Bar and "Pit Stop" (aka Bathroom). OUT OF POCKET COST: $0


Goodie Bags: For guests leaving, we had goodie bags placed at the "Finish Line". We made the goodie bags out of brown paper lunch bags and used red, yellow, and green construction paper to create the look of a stoplight. - OUT OF POCKET COST: $15 - I already had the construction paper, so I just bought the brown paper bags and goodie bag treats at the dollar store. For just $15 I was able to buy tire yoyo's, bubbles, plastic bugs, and candy to make 18 goodie bags! It was a cute and simple "thank you for coming" gift for the kids.


Since we were on a budget, I only planned games that required no actual money. Two games I came up with were Red Light, Green Light and Relay Race (to stick with the car theme). However, when it came down to it, the kids preferred to just play in our backyard! We had a swing set, jungle gym, playhouse, and mini trampoline, along with a sand table and a few tricycles, so thankfully all of those things kept the kids occupied the whole 3 hours!

The wooden swing set was our gift to our son for his 2nd birthday. It cost about $420, so to help balance the cost, we asked guests if they wanted to contribute towards it, prior to the party. After all the monies were collected, we only had to chip in an extra $50! A huge thank you again to Hugo, Christine, Angelina, Mario, Maui, Papa&Lala, Grandma&Grandpa Hoop, and The McDonald Family for chipping in so we could get him this awesome swing set! All their generosity helped us get our son a gift he loves without having to charge it to credit!

And even though we had a lot of people contribute towards the swing set, he still made out like a bandit in the gift department!


Our son about to blow his candle!

His favorite part of the whole party - lol.

All in all, we were able to throw our son an awesome party without hurting our wallets! Thank you to everyone that came and to those who helped us make our son's birthday a little more special!

  • Don't hesitate to ask for help!
  • Rather than people buying a gift, ask if they can volunteer their TIME towards the party. (Especially if they have a specific talent like baking or photography or face painting!)
  • For expensive gifts, see if you can have guests chip in.
  • Make the decorations yourself.
  • Don't cater your food. Make most or all of it yourself.
  • Bake your own birthday cake.
  • When buying materials for the party, look at the dollar store or 99 Cent Store first! (Especially for goodie bag treats!)
  • And lastly, kids aren't very difficult to please, so think of cheap or free games that can entertain the kids to avoid breaking the bank! You don't always need fancy bounce houses or clowns for the kids to have a great time!
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If you liked any of our ideas, please make sure to "pin it" to your Pinterest board or "share it" on your Facebook wall for future reference! If you have any ideas you've done for a car-themed party and want to share with others, don't hesitate to voice them in our "comments section"! Thank you for reading!