Frugal and Floral Fun – The Botanical Gardens

frugal and floral

Frugal and Floral Fun on a Dime

I don’t know why I hadn’t gone before, but when a dear friend visiting this summer treated us to a trip to the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks we had a blast! This frugal and floral experience fits in the budget rather easily. Click here for admission fees and information if you live in or are planning to visit Northwest Arkansas. There is a kid’s section complete with a human-size bird’s nest accessible by bridge, reading railroad, and a wonderful little butterfly house. We will definitely be going back.

Frugal and Floral Fun in the Children’s Garden

This is a beautiful area for the kids to play in with a sculpted cement tree, magnet wall, and even a small pond. The reading rainbow train has couches for train cars. There is also a very large walking stick sculpture that makes for a great photo op if you have multiple kids old enough to sit on it.

The Butterfly House

This small, but beautiful little screened-in oasis was a hit with the kids. There are gorgeous flowers, sculptures, and of course butterflies inside a beautifully designed structure.

Walking Trail and Other Gardens

The paths are easy to follow to the different gardens if you have kids in tow or even a stroller. I definitely plan to go back when it is a little cooler outside. With events and activities year-round from firefly nights to Christmas events we can be sure to find the time for this frugal and floral activity!

There is also a native plants garden, and a chicken coop ( which is almost always a hit with small children), which are not pictured here.

The Japanese garden with the koi pond provides a nice bit of shade to sit in and cool off and looking for fish was entertaining for our bigger butterflies. This is definitely a must-see for Northwest Arkansas. My only complaint is why didn’t I go before?!

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Tips for a Less Stressful, Easier Morning Routine

easier morning

Your Easier Morning Starts with a Better Night Before

The first thing you do to ensure an easier morning is to start the night before. Read my post on 6 Tips to Get a Better Night’s Sleep Now. A great night’s sleep helps a lot. But before you go to bed you’ll want to make sure you get a few things done.

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Before bed…

Clean the kitchen at night to avoid overwhelm in the morning. It makes things so much easier. This is definitely worth the effort. I need to be more consistent with this one. It is so much easier when you can just walk in and start preparing food without first clearing space to work.

I also try to go through her backpack and take home folder as soon as we get home in the afternoon. It helps a lot to get this out of the way. Make sure to check pockets for “souvenirs” and “gifts” your child may have received from friends on the bus, including food or candy. We had a lot of surprises in the backpack last year. I don’t want a repeat!

We get the kids bathed in the evenings. It helps a lot to have a plan for dinner and to eat a little earlier to avoid feeling rushed in the evenings. I also keep a Thieves roller on the kitchen counter so I remember to give her added immune support when I pass out vitamins. Anything I know I’ll likely forget needs to be out in plain sight.

It can help to lay your clothes out the night before. If that works for you great! I tend to change my mind in the morning so I just wait until before my shower to pull something out to wear. I have a lot fewer clothes now since decluttering so it takes much less time.

Start a Little Earlier and Don’t Rush

This has taken me almost 35 years to appreciate. I am NOT a morning person. My personal preference has always been a hit the snooze three times and then see how bare-bones my routine can be. I got so good at it I knew how many minutes I’d save if I cut out certain portions of my morning routine.

It just doesn’t work out that way with kids. They don’t really follow your time table. Last week I finally accepted the only solution was to get around before they’re up.

I am now up a full two hours before we have to step out of the house. This allows me to shower, dress, and have breakfast on the table before I go wake up my first grader. When our youngest isn’t up yet I have about 15 minutes to myself.

It also helps that I stick to the same routine when it comes to getting ready of a morning and when I go to bed; I do things in the same order I’ve done them for years. I’ve yet to step out the door without brushing my teeth or applying deodorant, so I’d say it works for me!

You know your child better than anybody and how long they need to get ready; I have learned that my daughter needs 40 to 45 minutes to get out the door. This allows time to make her bed, get dressed, eat, brush teeth, and fix hair. Any longer and she will be sidetracked and we can still end up late!

For an easier morning, you need a game plan

If you don’t want to be stressed you need to have a clue before you turn on the kitchen light. There is nothing quite like a frantic rush to figure out what to feed kids (who aren’t all that patient) to derail your morning.

I find my kids don’t fill up on cereal. It’s all they’ll request of a morning, but 3 bowls later and they’re still hungry! Oh, and someone has a tummy ache. I try to feed them scrambled eggs, muffins, or other heartier options rather than cereal. They don’t always cooperate, but a full belly is always better than a hungry or hurting one. Smoothies can also be a great, frugal option.

My planner has meal options already planned out through the rest of the month. I pick a breakfast or lunch option listed on a day prior to my next planned grocery trip and I should have the ingredients.

When my daughter informed me this morning, the day before grocery shopping day, that she wouldn’t eat the lunch I was going to prepare yes, I winged it. But I did know what I had on hand so it didn’t slow me down. Much.

Aim to get out the door 5-10 minutes before necessary and always have the diaper bag

If you aim to be early it’s harder to be late. I typically try to be ready to leave 10 minutes before necessary and you know something? I’m rarely early! But I’m late much less often than in the past.

With babies and toddlers, it is always best to bring the bag in every evening and repack it then. It is no fun to get somewhere, have an epic diaper, and be unprepared. I’ve been there, done that, thrown away all the evidence. Don’t do that to yourself! I take my son’s bag with me just to drop off his sister at school just in case. We’re only planning a 30 minute round trip back home, but you never know, right?

These are the tools I’m using to help get out the door on time and with less stress of a morning. What are your tried and true ways to keep an easier morning routine?

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6 Tips to Get a Better Night’s Sleep Now

How to Get the Best Sleep Ever

If you’re like me you’ll do anything to get a good night’s sleep. I’ll be honest; I’m pretty good at some of these tips, but terrible at a few as well. Read on to for a few very simple tips to get a great night’s sleep now. This is a perfect time to discuss a good night’s sleep since kids around the country are going back to school this month! Mine starts tomorrow!

1 – Ease into an earlier bedtime

We could all probably stand to go to bed earlier, but don’t rush it. If you typically go to bed at 11 PM don’t expect to start hopping in bed at 8:30 and start getting lots of sleep. It’s probably not going to happen. Make a goal to go to bed up to half an hour earlier at a time until you find your ideal bedtime.

We started two weeks before school started getting our daughter accustomed to a regular bedtime. It’s a good thing we did because what we thought would work well turned out to be a little too late and we still had to tweak it some to avoid morning meltdowns. She is now accustomed to going to bed at 8 PM and getting up between 6:30 and 6:45 AM.

2 – Turn off Your electronic devices

I am one of the worst at this. I know you don’t fall asleep as fast if you’ve been staring at the TV screen, tablet, or cell phone before bed. It really should be off at least an hour or two prior to trying to get some shut-eye in order to ensure the best sleep ever we all know we need.

If you’re not willing to shut it off early in the evening at least turn on the blue light filter and reduce the strain on your eyes. I keep mine on my phone all the time with no problem but only use it on my Kindle Fire if I’m reading later at night. The screen turns an orangy tone and I find that distracting during the day. Do yourself a favor and put your screen down a little earlier. This goes for me as well. If reading helps you fall asleep it’s best done the old fashioned way – turning the pages!

3 – Get yourself some lavender for the best sleep ever

Lavender not only smells great but is great for sleep support. I diffuse lavender and cedarwood every night at bedtime and I fall asleep faster than I ever. I have also decided to make it a priority to budget for a diffuser or our problem sleeper’s room in order to help him get his best sleep ever at night and quit interrupting ours. If you don’t feel like a diffuser is your style but still want some natural sleep support a dab of lavender with a carrier oil behind the ears and/or misting your pillow can help you drift off as well. Click here to receive free samples of three of Young Living oils.

4 – Cut off caffeine after dinner

If not earlier. Everybody reacts differently, so the more affected you are by caffeine, the earlier you need to cut yourself off. Try to get all your hydration needs in well before bedtime so you’re not waking up because you gotta go in the middle of the night.

If you have to have something to drink after dinner stick with water or herbal tea. I love a good cup of hot tea a little before bed. There are also several herbal blends specifically designed to help you sleep.

5 –You’ll get your best night’s sleep in a dark room

White noise is really the only noise you need. A ceiling fan and the sound of the diffuser are more than enough for me, but our six-year-old also uses a small fan on top of her armoire for white noise.

Also, make sure it is dark enough so your brain knows it’s supposed to let you sleep. Our master bedroom is closest to the driveway where we have an LED light on the electric pole. You don’t have to worry about stubbing your toes on furniture in our room at night! We have thermal curtains but they aren’t enough so I am researching the cost of blackout shades like these. We have large windows, which is great for letting in natural light, but a little harder on the budget to buy blinds or shades!

6 – Get into a bedtime routine

One of the best things you can do that costs no money and requires little effort is to get into a predictable bedtime routine. This can help to signal your body that it’s time to go to sleep.

If you’re like me and you have kids you know your sleep is dependent on theirs, so use these six tricks on them as well, five of them at least. I know mine prefer their night lights, so making the room as dark as possible isn’t the best option for them yet.

How well do you sleep? What are your tried and true routines to help you nod off and get a great night’s sleep? I’d love to hear them!

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10 Under $10 to Save You Time and Money

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Make Life a Little Easier

Life can be hard. And it can be expensive. If you’re living that budget life like I am chances are you are always on the lookout for anything that will save you a little time, money, sanity, or all three. Here is a list of 10 under $10 I’ve curated to do just that!

These items align with goals I have been working toward and at around $10 these items definitely qualify as frugal.

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10 Under $10

10 under $10
  1. Meal prepping and cooking at home can save you a lot of time and money, but if you don’t know where to start, get a meal prepping cookbook like this one by Alea Milham. The Kindle version is only $9.99. A small investment like this one can save you hundreds of dollars a year if not more in the long run.

productivity journal

2. A good productivity journal or planner like this Shine Bright diary for $9.35 can help keep you organized. Write down appointments, bill due dates, even work up your monthly budget and to-do lists on these customizable pages. If you aren’t feeling particularly creative pick out a planner with preset calendar pages instead.

10 under $10

3. I hate using a store’s plastic shopping bags; I have to take them back to Walmart to recycle. That is why I love reusable shopping bags and am looking to replace my Aldi ones – store ones rip. A few sturdy canvas bags like this one for $6.95 seems like a much better option. This one is natural cotton and customizable!

10 under $10

4. If you love coffee a stainless steel travel mug is a must. This Jura 20 oz tumbler is just $8.95 and has an average rating of 5 stars with over 1500 reviews! Sounds like a pretty good mug. It also has a straw and two lid functions. Brew your own coffee at home for pennies a day or take your own travel mug to your favorite coffee shop or convenience store for a discount!

k-cup reusable filters

5. Speaking of brewing at home, if you use a single-serve brewer you know K-cups are not cheap compared to ground coffee bought in bulk. And they generate a lot of trash. Reusable filter cups like these for just $9.95 make life easier and save some cash every month. Just compost those grounds and rinse out the filter when you’re done. Buy a K-cup variety pack to see which blends you like best and then buy bagged grounds of the blends you know you love. You can even grind your own if you prefer. This will can save you about a quarter a day, which can add up to some serious savings on your daily cuppa joe! It can also save space in your cabinets not storing bulky boxes of k-cups.

10 under $10

6. Stop throwing your money out every time you use a Ziploc bag. They may seem cheap, but get one wet and it isn’t reusable and it definitely isn’t environmentally friendly. I like this five pack of reusable bags. At $10.99 it’s just a stretch over my list goal, but I think the variety makes it worth the extra 99 cents. If you don’t trust silicone or PEVA then it is worth it to spring for stainless steel. They’re also freezer safe!

10 under $10

7. Never lose another baby sock or ruin another bra in the wash with these color-coded mesh wash bags. At $5.99 they are definitely worth it. The excellent reviews give me more confidence in them than the cheapo one I bought at Walmart that ripped and lost its contents in the wash.

10 under $10

8. A sewing emergency kit like this one can save you money by extending the life of your wardrobe. You don’t necessarily have to invest in a sewing machine to repair a hem, sew a button back on, or patch a hole. You do however need a sewing kit. Needles, scissors, several colors of thread, etc are included. This is a bargain at $6.99 when you consider how much you could save on your wardrobe over time by simply taking better care of your clothes.

10 for under $10

9. Get a toothpaste squeeze like this one and never waste toothpaste from the tube again! We recently cut open a tube of toothpaste once we thought we couldn’t possibly get any more out. Were we wrong! A 4 pack is just $4.99.

playdoh

10. The last item on this list is solely a sanity saver. If you have kids you probably already know how invaluable a few minutes of your kids entertaining themselves can be. I was not a fan until recently. Trying to keep a class of six two-year-olds happy during Vacation Bible School made me a believer. Play-doh is inexpensive and non-toxic. This 10 pack is $7.99 or you can make your own. I’ve even seen recipes with peanut butter if your kids are prone to eat them. Any inexpensive sensory item is good to have around when you need to get something done or just drink a cup of coffee without a million interruptions.

Pick up any of these 10 under $10 and save yourself some hassle today! What are your must-have items for saving time, money, and your sanity? I’d love to hear from you.

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25 Frugal and Dairy-Free School Lunch Ideas

frugal and dairy free

I’m Not That Mom…

I love all those fancy photos of elaborate school lunches lovingly packed by moms and nannies and posted to Instagram accounts dedicated entirely to said lunches. They’re so fun. And not particulary frugal and dairy-free. They’re also so not me. The ones I think I could pull off rather easily (a caterpillar with veggies and grape tomatoes is an adorable idea!) my child probably wouldn’t eat. And that is okay. To each mom her own.

While I may dream of being that mom who packs inventive and unique meals on the daily in reality I am the mom throwing something together at 7 am frantically while my daughter asks why she only gets four things. Don’t I know that’s not enough?Guess what? I’ve been to school at lunch and while the cafeteria does serve more the kids aren’t eating most of the food. I pack what I am convinced she will eat. 

I’m also the mom who gets sidetracked while fixing said four things because her little brother had a poopsplosion at an inopportune time. That usually gets a laugh from the school secretary when you check your child in late. Been there, twice actually. But that’s a story for a different type of blog post!

Over the summer I decided to save money in the budget and be nicer to the planet by eliminating most one-time use products in our house. I stopped buying paper towels, paper napkins, paper plates… the logical next step is using fewer plastic baggies. Yes, I said fewer. I tapering off slowly. My wallet and my lifelong habits need a little easing into some things.

I made a list of some frugal and dairy-free lunches I plan to pack for my lactose intolerant child this school year. This is five weeks’ worth of lunch ideas to try!

Frugal and Dairy Free – the List

  1. Pretzels, hummus, and turkey pepperoni with a fruit
  2. Pinwheels and banana
  3. Mixed veggies and veggie dip on toast with rolled lunch meat on the side
  4. Cookie-cutter almond butter and jelly sandwiches with berries
  5. Birds in a blanket (sliced turkey dog in a crescent roll)
  6. Turkey pepperoni, tortilla strips, and pizza sauce
  7. Hard-boiled eggs, baby carrots, and a home-baked cookie
  8. Chicken quesadilla cut into strips
  9. Pasta salad
  10. Sweet potato fries and a slider
  11. Flatbread with pesto, bruschetta, or other topping and cherry tomatoes
  12. Mini bagel sandwich and baked chips
  13. Rolled lunch meat, crackers, baby carrots, and veggie dip or hummus
  14. Ham muffins and apple slices
  15. Sandwiches on a stick (for older kids – cube sandwich and slide onto kabob sticks)
  16. Chips and salsa or guacamole and grilled chicken
  17. Chicken nuggets with dipping sauce and baby carrots
  18. Chicken salad and toast
  19. Waffles and fruit
  20. Apple and almond butter “stacked” sandwiches
  21. Turkey dog and baked chips
  22. Wrap with fresh fruit and sliced bell pepper
  23. Salad with grilled chicken and berries
  24. Fruit salad and sliced turkey dog
  25. Taco bowls – scoop tortilla chips with leftover taco meat and a few toppings in each with sliced bell pepper

A few hacks I’ve learned to be frugal and dairy-free

Although I find the vegan ranch to be a poor substitute for the original, my daughter likes it. For simplicity’s sake, I will probably use it for a veggie dip. Hummus makes a great addition to sandwiches and wraps. Plain popcorn is also a great filler in lunches. It’s been a bit of a sanity saver at our house this summer. It’s worth noting I also buy all-natural uncured meats where possible.

If it’s inexpensive, dairy-free, and my kid won’t eat it there is nothing frugal about food that ends up in the trash can at the end of lunch. And nothing fun for a teacher dealing with a kid all afternoon after she hasn’t eaten much for lunch. Can we say hangry? We get hangry in this family. Easily.

I’d rather compromise on some things I know she’ll eat that won’t upset her tummy than waste money and food trying to get her to change her eating habits. They don’t do afternoon snacks past kindergarten. Plan accordingly.

My daughter doesn’t actually eat sliced bell pepper – yet. I may or may not sneak some in there. It can be a challenge being frugal and dairy-free since meat and cheese seem like lunch staples, but I’m going to try to be a little more creative this year than I was in Kindergarten.

This year to avoid taking up space in her bag with an ice pack to keep certain foods cool I plan to keep frozen berries in the fridge overnight and let them finish thawing in her bag. This way they keep the rest of her food cool enough as well. I know frozen applesauce pouches work well, but she can’t eat it. If we weren’t dairy-free I would probably also use frozen yogurt pouches.

What are Your Frugal Lunch Ideas?

How do you manage to stay frugal and be creative with your kids’ school lunches? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks!

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Back to School on a Dime

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Send the kids back to school – can it be done in a frugal and sustainable fashion?

What I’ve been wondering is how to send them back to school inexpensively but also sustainably; I do not want to spend a fortune but I also do not want to buy cheap items that aren’t sustainable. I’ve been researching stainless steel lunch container options and they are sustainable and adorable.

They don’t feel frugal considering the price compared to plastic, but this is one of those times spending a little more money upfront and only spending it once as opposed to every single year is probably more responsible. I just HATE spending a lot of money on stuff.

Last year I threw my daughter’s backpack away. It wasn’t in good shape and it looked disgusting. Yes, it probably could’ve been salvaged, and yes I feel a little guilty about being so wasteful. I donated her lunch bag and plastic sandwich boxes. We are tired of plastic and she’d outgrown Paw Patrol phase. I feel good about donating things we don’t use. I don’t feel so good about throwing something away, but it looked a little too nasty for goodwill.

First Grade – Frugal and Sustainable

This year my daughter goes to first grade. We are fortunate to live in a district that only requires a $35 supply fee and they provide everything in the classroom. All we have to buy is a backpack and lunch gear (if they aren’t eating cafeteria food). I’m thinking this is a great opportunity to be a little more sustainable in our choices. We are already making the switch to stainless steel at home, so why not continue? I’m still cheap!

We chose to steer her toward more quality options and use them longer. We got also got a little more creative this year with her lunch bag. Our first stop was Academy since they have great prices on kids footwear and last year we got an inexpensive backpack that fit a kindergartener more than the options we found at Target. Since this is the tax-free weekend in Arkansas and we waited for Daddy to get off work before shopping this afternoon the selection was pretty limited.

What We Bought

We quickly settled on quality over price since the price point I was after was gone anyway. We got her this Jansport half pint backpack with a lifetime warranty for $29.99 (if you click the link you’ll see it is $5 less online) and a pair of BCG Prestige running shoes. Total spent was $54.98. I will launder the backpack when needed and she can use it again next year.

frugal and sustainable

Our next stop was Duluth Trading, which is not a kids store, but they were participating in the tax-free weekend and my husband gets a 40% discount. Our daughter had her heart set on a pencil bag and we wanted a better quality bag for lunches.

The Kavu lunch totes are excellent quality but were a little large for her. She also had her heart set on purple, so we found this canvas zip-top bag just the right size for a sandwich box, snack item, and kid’s water bottle. She also wanted a pencil bag so daddy directed her to this zippered pouch called a parts bag.

The purple bag will be perfect for when school is out for her to carry a tablet and headphones, note pad, pencils, or other items. Our total price with employee discount was $23.78.

frugal and sustainable

Since the bag is on the smaller side I settled on these stainless steel sandwich boxes on Amazon for $11.99 each. I found less expensive ones, but the reviews were not great.

Our total amount spent was $102.74 and everything we bought will be used past this school year. I don’t think we did too bad on the frugal or sustainable fronts. It also fits my budget quite nicely. Tell me how your back to school shopping is going. I’d love to hear your frugal and sustainable shopping hacks!

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How to Get Organized on a Dime in 3 Easy Steps

get organized

You may be wondering about the title of this post – I just preached to get rid of all your clutter to free up space, so what could I possibly have left to organize and store? Quite a bit actually.

We still live in our house. We still have kids. I couldn’t donate them even if they are the biggest source of clutter in my house. So we organize. On a dime.

I posted in my Instagram stories during Clutter Week about a few purchases. Yes, I bought things while I was decluttering. They were planned purchases and I spent a minimal amount of money. Less than $10 came out of the budget. This may sound petty, but we had our DVDs stored in bins. The bins were chosen for our first place, a duplex, where we had a modern color scheme of red, black, and beige. Now that we are settled into our farmhouse I am decorating mostly in blues. The red and brown bins in my blue and gray living room irked me every time I looked at them. 

Get Organized in 3 Easy Steps

Step One – Declutter

The first step you’ve (hopefully) already done! Declutter your stuff! Get rid of what you don’t use so you can make room for what you do! If you haven’t already done this go back and read the Clutter Week posts to get an idea of how to get started.

Step 2 – Decant Some Categories

This is a fancy way of saying to take bulky stuff out of its packaging when possible. With food, it may mean storing snacks in clear containers that make it easier to look in the cabinet and see what you need. Then you can recycle the original packaging.

With CDs (if you still have or buy those) it will look like taking all the discs and the cover art/tracklist out of the case. Hopefully, you live near a place that recycles them.

Step 3 – Group Items by Use

Group items by use after decluttering/decanting. In the kitchen, it makes sense to put all the decanted snacks together, dry foods together, spices, etc. All CDs and even DVDs can be stored in an organizing binder by category. I actually got rid of most of my CDs. They were already organized, but after spending a year in storage I didn’t miss any of them. I am good streaming.

get organized

I keep our movies organized in simple galvanized tubs that actually drink dispenser stands. They were exactly the right size and on clearance. Double win! All trilogies and sets are in one tin organized by set. Video games and Wii controllers are in the tin below.

get organized

I even got my oily items organized this past week when my handy hubby built me an oily shelf for the master bathroom. Now my oils and lotions aren’t taking up counter space or rolling around in a drawer. The best part was this little project was less than $10 to complete! One specialty router bit to make a groove for the large bottles to nestle in was all that was needed! This was accomplished with a coupon!

get organized

After our son’s accident, we decided not to take any more chances. My husband made a wall shelf out of leftover plywood from other projects to store detergent and other items that need to be kept out of little hands. You don’t have to spend a lot (or sometimes any) money to get organized. Paint supplies are kept on top so I don’t have unexpected art on the walls but don’t need to ask my husband to get in the attic if I feel the urge to get crafty.

Shop Your House First to Save Money

Sometimes I also shop around my house to see if there are storage items that can be used in a different way. We use bins in drawers and closets. Sometimes I borrow between rooms if I’ve decluttered one area and no longer need a bin or box but may need something in another room. For example, I kept eggs in a wire basket that proved too deep and resulted in a few cracked eggs. It made a perfect basket for K-cups in the cabinet.

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Trusting in Him Always

This is not the post I was planning to write, but I just don’t feel inspired about organizing on a small budget this week. If you follow the blog you know that our family experienced an emergency a day after I posted about needing an emergency fund. I do not think that was a coincidence.

I’ve felt passionate about saving money for a while, but I was extremely inspired the last month or two about increasing our emergency fund. Looking back I think God was preparing us for what was ahead. His provision is so perfect that way.

Earlier on in our marriage we learned that unexpected, “extra” money was never really extra; it was money God knew we’d need and thankfully now we’ve had the wisdom to save the majority of unexpected funds rather than spend it all when it comes our way.

Early in the month my husband found out he was getting a quarterly bonus. We bought a set of towels on clearance, went out for burgers, and put the rest in savings. He also made a few extra dollars on his paychecks this month that I’d estimated in Every Dollar; after talking about the situation last Friday night I came to the realization that between money saved on his bonus, the increased paychecks, and money I’d already put in savings from babysitting earlier in the month was roughly equal to the payment I’d prepaid the surgeon that afternoon. Talk about God’s provision!

Yesterday morning we showed up dark and early to the hospital at 5 am with a tired toddler who was not interested in going back to sleep. When more than one hour passed with his patient pin listed as in surgery on the waiting room board we knew it had moved past exploratory and into repair.

I am so thankful we were convicted to go ahead with exploratory surgery rather than take a wait and see approach. The emergency room doctor told me to call a particular hand specialist if our little boy wasn’t vending his thumb after a few days. We heeded his advice and got our little guy in just over a week after his injury.

Thursday morning we went to an orthopedic clinic and orthopedic surgery was scheduled the following Monday. The doctor came out and basically said what we’d hoped we wouldn’t hear; to the best of my nontechnical and overwhelmed knowledge, two nerves were severed in his little thumb, one ligament in his palm had retracted, and one superficial artery in his palm had also been severed. It was bad but could’ve been so much worse.

Now we wait and pray and try to console an uncomfortable toddler braced and bandaged up to his armpit to immobilize his hand for optimal healing and restoration of his thumb. He may have limited use and he may have loss of feeling.

It is a terrible feeling as a parent to feel that our child may not be restored whole, especially at such a young age. But, the Good Lord spared blood loss to his other fingers when it was likely, he put the right doctors in our path, and he gave us the means to pay the bills coming in.

I can only trust that He will also restore my little boy’s hand. Whatever the outcome I know my son’s story will be used for His glory. I take comfort in that as I’ve felt somewhat helpless in comforting my little boy at times this week.

A little over two years ago this same little boy was taken via Angel Flight from Washington Regional Medical Center to Arkansas Childrens Hospital. As I sat in my wheelchair crying watching my 2 day old son prepared for flight one of the transporters spoke with us and said he would treat our son as if he were his own. A few days ago a surgeon I had never met looked me in the eye told me he has a little monkey of his own and he was going to take mine.

Please pray for our little boy and our whole family as we walk through these next weeks of uncertainty. I do not know how regular or “good” posting will be throughout this process. All I know is this is what is on my heart as I hold my sleeping boy this afternoon.

Whatever situation or uncertainty you may be facing I hope you know you can trust in Him too. Seek comfort in His arms and He will see you through.

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Let’s Talk About Digital Clutter – Then Let’s Deal With It!

digital clutter

Digital Clutter Can’t be Ignored

Let’s talk about digital clutter; we know we have it, but how often do we do anything about it? I know I get really frustrated when I try to hop on my laptop or my PC to do one quick thing… and I can’t find what I need for all the digital clutter in the way. It is so frustrating, but thankfully so easy combat.

Monday I talked about Dealing With Physical Clutter. Just like purging and organizing our physical clutter, we have to occasionally purge and organize our digital clutter. It just makes life easier. It may seem easier to deal with our digital clutter when our phone is warning us it is dangerously low on storage space or our computer needs a good scan, but it really isn’t; when I first started this site I would get so frustrated when I wanted to upload a picture to a post. Where was it? Why are these old photos in this folder? Which phone did I take that photo with? What is that? It was so distracting and every little thing took longer than necessary.

Deal With it on Your PC

By not dealing with my clutter I was setting myself up for frustration every time I turned on the computer. It wasn’t going to go away on its own. Clutter by nature only gets worse when we don’t deal with it. I can either get my stuff organized or I can be frustrated every time I opened my laptop; luckily I chose the former.

I got started organizing photos on the laptop by making a new folder for “old photos to organize,” and I put all pictures that didn’t belong in existing folders in that folder and focused on the files I need to access now. Photos and files I needed first took priority and then I worked on the folder of older photos as I had time. Once I got my photos organized and I could sit down and get what I need to do done and move on in much less time. My focus is on the task at hand and not the task I put off causing me more work.

Deal With Digital Clutter on Your Phone

I have a problem with storage space on my phone. It is a problem I couldn’t foresee happening when I got my first smartphone. Why have a camera on a phone? How could I possibly use a computer’s worth of memory on a phone? The answer? Easily.

It wasn’t long before my phone started sending me warnings that I was dangerously low on space. What the danger is exactly other than not saving a picture I do not know, but I decided the status quo probably wasn’t working anymore. The phone wasn’t gonna give up til I gave it some space.

The first thing I did more for ease of changing phones also works great for managing space. I save all my contacts and photos to Google rather than my phone. Now I have access to everything on any device. This way I don’t have to wonder what phone I took a picture with (going forward at least). It’s all in the same cloud; I then made a point from time to time to back up and delete pictures from my phone before I started receiving dire warnings.

Having small children sometimes translates to terrible short term memory, so I tend to save texts I may need to remember. I have 400 plus texts in one conversation and can’t find ANYTHING let alone the time I’m supposed to meet so-and-so tomorrow before I know it. I do mass purges, but need to get in the habit of doing them on the regular.

Deal With it on Your Tablet

My tablet admittedly doesn’t get much use these days; it’s obvious when I see a three-year-old picture as the background. My youngest didn’t even make the cut for pictures! To be fair, I use a Kindle, which is a great reader, but not compatible with my Android phone like it was with my old Fire phone.

I don’t have much clutter on it, but I do need to update and delete apps to make it more useful to me now. I also need to find an app similar to Libby in the Amazon store as opposed to finding it on my phone in Libby and then defaulting it to open in the Kindle app so I can read it on a bigger screen. By making some simple changes I will get a lot more use out of the device and save my eyes the strain of constantly using my smartphone for everything.

Deal With That Digital Clutter for Clutter Week!

I’ve found that when I have my digital life in order I work faster, with more focus, and feel more inspired with the rest of my day. I didn’t spend all my time getting frustrated with not finding a file. That left me with less patience for my kids. A frustrated mommy is not the nicest mommy.

I’ll be over on Instagram today showing my digital decluttering in stories using #clutterweek. Use the same hashtag to show me your digital decluttering this week!

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Our Emergency: Why We Cash Flow Medical Bills

If only I’d known how timely my post schedule was…

Just Tuesday I posted Emergency! Why You Need an Emergency Fund Now! I talked about how this particular item is our financial focus right now and where we are in the baby steps. Little did I know that Wednesday we would experience an emergency. Murphy must’ve heard me talking about him.

Our Emergency

In case you don’t follow @alifeonadime on Instagram, here is a little recap I posted after the dust settled:

My newfound love affair with glass is over. This dispenser shattered on the tile and sent us running to the ER this afternoon. 
Not long after I tried to deter my 2 year old from the lower shelves by storing things in bins he snuck in and pulled the dispenser off the shelf. 
We thought it was safe from his reach. We were wrong. Thankfully he appears to have avoided any permanent damage but we should know for sure in a few days. Praying that little thumb keeps moving. 
Today was by far my scariest moment as a parent yet. And I saw this kid angel flighted to Little Rock at 2 days old. This was unexpected and the sounds of glass and screaming are not going away from my memory any time soon. 
I am only posting this because he is currently sleeping on me. I am soooo thankful we have savings however small and insurance in which his deductible has been met. This is why we need emergency funds. Money was not on our list of concerns sitting in the ER through x-rays and shots and sutures. He was. I am so thankful we are not the typical household that could not cover a $1000 expense. I sincerely hope you aren’t either.

When I sat down two weeks ago and mapped out my blog posts for the month I had no idea that I would be the one needing them most. I guess this week I’m just posting my personal diary.

Medical Bills Happen

If you are breathing and especially if you have children you can expect medical bills. My husband has glaucoma. His eye exams are more in-depth than what vision insurance typically pays. He also goes every six months as opposed to once a year (ca-ching). If the pressure has changed, and it usually has, he gets a new prescription eye drop (ca-ching) and has a follow-up in two weeks (ca-ching) to see if it is relieving the pressure. If it isn’t, you guessed it, he gets new drops (ca-ching_ and another recheck (ca-ching).

Insurance Makes Things Interesting

To make things more interesting insurance takes a while to process the claims so it can be a few months before we see the bill. It is not uncommon to get two or three bills at once and sometimes they are already 60 plus days past his appointment date before we ever see the amount owed. Depending on the size of the amount due I typically just pay the oldest first and then pay the rest off in two or three chunks. It’s not perfect but it works. It seems expensive but he never seems to meet his deductible. Gotta love insurance.

To make our insurance situation even trickier our kids were double insured until last year when I left my full-time job. Prior to that, we hadn’t paid a dime for our son’s physical therapy that hadn’t been refunded. After my insurance expired we were surprised by a $600 bill from the therapy clinic. I called and it turned out that even though my insurance was secondary it was picking up the tab on everything while the primary insurance policy was just applying everything to the deductible.

January 1st rolled around and we had to start over on our deductible and there was no secondary insurance paying the balance. So we are making payments on that as well.

Why We Do Things This Way

You may ask why we don’t just pay the medical bills and be done. That is a valid question. Technically if you follow the baby steps you pay off all your debt before finishing your emergency fund.

We are also a single-income family at the moment. Heaven forbid my husband were to lose his job our little medical bills would not be our biggest concern. Our focus would be on buying food to feed our kids, keeping the lights on, and paying the mortgage so we could stay in our house. Paid off medical bills and little to no money in savings would not help us in that situation.

On the flip side, if we had an emergency fund not only could we feed our kids, keep the lights on, and stay in the house for a few months until we found a new source of income, we could also continue to make smaller payments on the medical bills. When it comes to personal finance you have to do what makes sense for your family. This makes sense for our family and helps us feel more secure.

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