Journee’s First Birthday

Hey guys! I can’t believe it, but Journee is 1! I swear I just had her though. It’s crazy how fast the time goes. I honestly didn’t plan on doing much of anything at first. I thought I wouldn’t be able to do things how I really wanted to without spending a ton of money. You see tons of posts and Pinterest boards of these extravagant birthday parties, and it can be overwhelming. I know that Journee won’t remember her first birthday party, but it was important for me to celebrate the miracle baby that she is! So I figured out how to do it my way without it the huge costs.  So let me share some of my tips!

Skip the theme                                                          So in the beginning I was all about a donut theme. The decorations were so cute! My favorite was the “Donut Turn One” birthday banner. Cute! Once I started to price all of this, I realized how expensive this was going to be. Once you have a theme, everything has to match that! It was just too much. I decided to pick a few colors and stick with that.  It’s a lot easier and cheaper to go this route.

Get crafty!                                                                 

I know that the idea of making your own decorations can seem intimidating and very time consuming, but it is totally worth it! Youtube was my best friend. I made everything including the backdrop, the monthly birthday frame, and the birthday banner.  Each of those cost no more than $10 for supplies. For me, adding these personal touches was my gift to her. I like that when she’s older I can show her all the work I did to show my love!

Check out Dollar Tree

This place is a must! I’m always amazed at all the stuff you can get here.  A lot of the supplies I used for the decorations were from here as well as the plates, napkins, utensils, and cups. Every store is different too. I checked out two different locations near me, and found that one was definitely better than the other. All the other supplies were from Hobby Lobby and Michaels, where I was able to use coupons on all my purchases.

Ask for help

I was lucky enough to be able to borrow a lot of things I needed for the party from family members. Before I purchased anything, I asked around first. I was pleasantly surprised by how much stuff I was able to borrow. You never know until you ask!

Have the party midday                                           

By having the party midday, you can get away with serving snacks only versus a meal. I kept the food simple.  Along with the cupcakes and cookies that I made myself, we had chips and salsa, cheese and crackers, fruit, and some baby-friendly snacks. It was perfect for a 2 o’clock party.

Shop consignment for a birthday outfit   

When I mentioned to my Husband that Journee was going to need two outfits for her birthday, he just rolled his eyes and walked away.  Ha! I really wanted to have an outfit for her photoshoot (which was a week before the party), and another outfit for the actual party. So I checked out my go-to spot, Once Upon A Child and found two outfits for $13. Even Hubs couldn’t be mad at that price!

Listen, the first birthday comes with a lot of different emotions. Not only is your baby hitting a big milestone, but you survived your first year of parenting. So however you decide to celebrate that, enjoy it!

 

Date Night on a Budget…

Date night is one of the many things I took for granted before having a baby. There wasn’t much work required to make it happen.  If we wanted to go out somewhere, we’d just up and go and not think twice about it. Things are just a tad different now with Journee (ha!).  Date night takes some planning now that we need a babysitter.  It’s a must though! We need that adult time for ourselves and for our marriage. So yes, it takes some effort but I appreciate it so much more now.

Let me share with you guys some of my favorite budget-friendly date ideas.  I love that my husband is so open to trying different places.  It opens up a lot of options that fit well within our budget.

Happy Hour:

Happy hour is definitely our go-to option. It’s a a great way to check out different bars and restaurants without spending a lot of money. Our ideal place is somewhere with outdoor seating that has deals on food and drinks.  One of our favorite places in Houston is Blanco Tacos & Tequila near Galleria Mall.  They have cocktails for $7, and appetizers starting at $5. There’s one thing on the menu that is a must for me: the queso! It’s amazing!

Topgolf:

My Husband and I are very competitive! We actually spent our anniversary this year at Topgolf. We usually go the steakhouse route for those types of celebrations, but we decided to switch it up! Even if you don’t like golf, this place is a lot of fun.  Think of it as a more grown up version of putt-putt. You get to have some friendly competition, along with some really good food and drinks.  If you can, check them out on Tuesdays when games are half off!

Brewery:

I’ve always loved breweries. If you’re looking for something low key, this is the way to go. Houston is home to some great breweries and beer gardens. Our favorite, Saint Arnold Brewery is perfect for our day dates we like to do. No babysitter? Well like most breweries, this place is kid and pet-friendly! There’s a massive outdoor patio and no shortage of great views of the city. If you visit during the week take advantage of their $20 lunch plates that include a drink (FYI the orange show beer is the way to go).

Honorable Mentions:

Discount Tuesdays at the movies

Picnic in the park

Free museum admission day on Thursdays

What’s your go-to for date night? Let me know in the comments!

Budget Friendly Holiday Activities

The holiday season is here! It’s that time of year for family, new and old traditions, and making lots of great memories.

I will admit that I can sometimes be a grinch during the holiday season, but not this year! I’m excited to celebrate Journee’s first Christmas with all our family and friends. I’ve made a list of holiday activities that I’m going to attempt to do before the month is out. Most of these are budget friendly ideas, and baby friendly (minus the boozy hot chocolate!).

1. Christmas crafts- baby’s first ornament

2. A night in with matching PJs and Christmas stories

3. Take Christmas themed pictures

4. Send out Christmas cards

5. Visit tree farm

6. Ugly Christmas sweater party

7. Sensory boxes with bows and wrapping paper

8. Find some holiday lights throughout the city

9. Bake Christmas cookies

10. Visit hotel with Christmas decorations

11. Christmas themed day at library

12. Play Christmas music

13. Unplug and enjoy family time

14. Find boozy hot chocolate recipe

15. Binge on classic Christmas movies

Am I missing anything? Let me know your favorite holiday activities below!

Baby Fall Fashion

So I’ve been on the hunt lately for more fall clothes for Journee. The weather has been up and down here in Texas for the past month at least. Lately thought it’s been more down so I’ve noticed just how sad her fall wardrobe is!  I wanted to share with you guys a few places I’ve had the best luck.

Walmart

So I haven’t been shopping at Walmart very long, but I’ve definitely been missing out! They have lots of options that are super affordable.  My favorite is their baby sweatsuits.  You can usually get the top and pants for about $9, and a lot of them are lined with fleece to keep them extra warm.  I decided to go up a size for Journee to give her a little room to grow in them this season. The only problem I’ve had with Walmart is finding her size.  If you don’t have any luck in the store, be sure to check online!

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Kohls

I just recently checked out Kohls for baby fashion.  It’s not somewhere I normally shop, but I got a coupon in the mail and decided to check them out.  The great thing about Kohls is that you can use multiple coupons (paper or digital) on the same purchase.  For example, on my last visit I used a $10 off paper coupon, $10 off $25 digital coupon, and a 15% off digital coupon! You can’t beat that.  It was all Carter’s brand items, and everything I bought was on sale to begin with.  With those kind of deals, I will definitely add Kohls to my regular shopping list for baby clothes.

 

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Better Baby Boutique

So I discovered this boutique on Instagram a few months ago, and I’m so happy I did.  They have the most chic baby clothes! They have sizes from newborn to toddler.  I can usually get most of their stuff for $10 or less, and their clothes are true to size.  It’s nice to have some one-of-kind items that you can’t just get anywhere.  So check them out and be sure to use code “JOURNEESAVE25” to save 25% off your next purchase!

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Once Upon a Child

This place is definitely my go-to!  I always find the best deals here.  I recently got the cutest fleece pullover my location for $6!  You can also sell your old baby clothes or gear here as well.  I recently sold Journee’s old rocker and used that money to buy her some fall clothes.  Every location is different so you never know what you’re going to find. Be sure to follow your location on social media to keep up with their current sales.

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I hope this helps. Again, these are just some of the places we shop and find great deals. Let me know in the comments where you guys like to shop for your kids!

 

Store Brands: Yay or Nay?

So when it comes to store brands I feel like most people are on one side or the other. Either you’re okay with them or you’re not. I’m okay with it depending on what the item is. I will at the very least try it out.

I recently decided to try out two store brands of baby items I use daily. The first was Target brand diapers, and the second was Sam’s Club (Member’s Mark) advantage formula. So far so good!

With the Target diapers, I haven’t had any problems. No major leaks, no diaper rash, or anything in between. I’m glad I tried them out. Honestly, the price was too tempting. For a box of 104 diapers, I paid $15. If I had stuck with my normal Pampers, I would’ve paid $25. I know $10 doesn’t sound like much, but it all adds up in the end to some really great savings.

Now with the formula I was definitely skeptical. I used to have some Mom guilt once I stopped breastfeeding, and I thought giving her a top brand like Similac Pro would ease some of that guilt. The truth is though Journee is growing and developing just fine. I don’t have to feel guilty about giving her formula. She’s getting fed and that’s all that matters! Any other Mamas with me? 🙂

The Sam’s Club version of Similac Pro Advance is basically the same ingredients. There is some variations, but none that were significant for me. I did my research and I decided it was worth trying. It’s been about 3 weeks and I haven’t noticed any issues from Journee. She hasn’t had any discomfort, and there’s been no changes in her diapers. Price wise it’s a big difference. With Similac we pay about $1.25/ounce and with Sam’s we pay about .50/ounce. So it’s been a substantial amount of savings for us!

So as you can see, I’ve had a pretty positive experience with store brands lately. I’m looking forward to trying more, and potentially saving even more money!

What has been y’all’s experiences with store brands? Any you recommend? Please share!

September – NICU Awareness Month

Hey guys! It’s been a while. Journee is SO active these days! It’s hard to get everything done that I want to do some days. I know I’m not the only one right??

With it being NICU Awareness Month, I wanted to share our NICU story with you guys.  Journee had a combo of heart and glucose issues she was dealing with after she was born.  We knew about the heart stuff during my pregnancy, but her glucose issues were a surprise. We spent a whole week there at Texas Children’s Hospital. It was a pretty scary experience.

One of the best things they have at Texas Children’s is access to the Ronald McDonald House.  I stayed there every night after I was discharged.  It was right around the corner from the NICU so I had easy access to Journee.  After my unplanned c-section and limited mobility, having that access to her was so crucial! That place was a blessing!

My heart broke for all the babies in the NICU, not just my own.  There were some tough days in there for sure, and you could hear and see the tears of these families.  I really admired their strength.  I mean, some of the babies had been in there for months!  We were just there a week and it seemed like forever!

I can’t say enough about the NICU nurses.  They were the best! They taught us so much! Of course as new parents, we had ALL the questions.  The nurses showed us everything from how to change her diaper, how to bathe her, how to hold her, etc.  They also had a very calming presence that helped in those moments of anxiety.  Just seeing all the cords and machines Journee was hooked up to would get me all teary eyed. They were always there to console and reassure us she was fine. A true God send!

So although the NICU can definitely be a sad and scary place, it’s also a place of strength.  Babies are such fighters!  They’re so much stronger than we realize.  Seeing the fight in Journee kept my spirits up each and everyday.  I’m grateful that God saved her, and gave me a testimony to help encourage others!

 

 

Beat the Heat Deals…

I think I speak for all of us when I say summer has outworn its welcome! I hate to have Journee out in this heat, but also know that staying inside too much will drive us both crazy. So I wanted to share a few FREE things I have found in the area to do with her; a couple I have tried this week and a couple on my list to try!

The Library – Check our your local library for some baby and toddler classes. I tried out a baby bounce class at my location where they had songs, story time and lots of toys to play with. It’s also a great way to meet other moms.

Children’s Museum of Houston – This place is pretty cool! We went on Thursday since that’s the free family day! If you go from 5-8 admission is free. Parking is also discounted at $3 in the garage. They have a special area on the 2nd floor just for the smaller babies and toddlers.

Baby Yoga – This is on my to do list. I keep hearing good things about it. I know some locations charge a fee for this, but turns out the Heights Neighborhood Library (Houston) has a free class every week! I will definitely let you guys know all about it when I go!

Houston Zoo – From Sept to May the zoo will offer free admission on the first Tuesday of every month. Its from noon to close, and you can get tickets online. Click the link for more info!

What are y’alls go to free activities for the kiddos? Let me know in the comments!