our Easter memories

and the balloon Easter egg hunt idea you have to try!

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We had such a wonderful Easter weekend I want to gush about it all on the blog so I can always come back to read it! Sam and Tom are at a really fun age to delight in all that is holiday magic…I just can’t help myself wanting to go all out.

It’s hard to believe that next Easter we’ll have a 6 month old in the mix too! Needless to say I don’t think I’ll be feeling as Pinterest-mom ish for Easter 2020, ha!

Our weekend started out early on Good Friday. I was lucky to be able to take off work and stay home with the boys who were out of school and daycare. The boys got a package with their names on it–made them feel pretty big time! It was full of Easter goodies from their great grandma and it made their day.

Then we got to have brunch with the Easter Bunny and I learned that Tom is one tough cookie.

He not only wanted to cry, he wanted to ESCAPE the room for fear of the Easter Bunny and kept running to each door trying to open it and telling Sam and I to come onnnnn. But he ultimately put on a brave face and did this funny little nervous laugh and took a picture, even though I told him he didn’t have to.

If you could have heard him nervously reassuring himself through a forced laugh: “Da Easta Bunny no bite me, nooooo….. he nice!” “he no a lion….he nice!”

Bite?!? A lion?! This kid. Sam is happy as can be even though he remarked that was “a human in a suit” and Tom’s look is nothing but pure determination.

That night we stayed in with homemade pizza and a family movie. These “homemade” pizzas are an Aldi find!

Saturday we hosted one of my favorite new traditions. We had our second annual friends Easter egg hunt in the yard. I love that as adults we can just pick and chose how we spend our holiday weekends and those are the
little traditions that will make up our kids’ memories forever.

We lucked out with a gorgeous day as opposed to last years’ rainy hunt and the Easter Bunny himself even stopped by afterwards! Tom seemed okay with him this time around!

Easter is often a time we spend with family but if you have nothing going on the Saturday before, why not have an egg hunt with friends?

Saturday night I went to the MFM podcast live in St Louis with two of my oldest friends and it was a blast! The boys got to attend their great great aunt’s 105th birthday dinner.

105th !

And then, thanks to Pinterest, our Easter morning started off so sweet with a sunrise balloon egg hunt.

We dyed eggs last week with the intention to leave out for the Easter bunny to hide in the yard.

But, with only 11 eggs (it was a win to only break one!) it may have been a tough hunt in our big yard. Plus, kids seem to be programmed these days to want to know what’s IN the egg. In this case—it was nothing of course. I figured hunting real eggs would be more exciting if it came with balloons!

The only tricky thing about this idea is that the helium doesn’t last long so the bunny can’t accomplish it the night before. He really needs to get started on this project about an hour before the kids get up which for this
bunny was pretty early…but just look how magical it was:

They were two happy little boys!

Word of advice if you are looking to do this…see if a friend has a helium tank with a little bit left! I lucked out that my mom had this tank but she figured it had enough for 1 or 2 balloons. I got 8 and could have kept on but the clock was ticking. I had searched all over town and struck out at 3 places that afternoon! Nothing like the last minute 🙂

We spent the rest of a beautiful sunny Easter in church and eating with family then wrapped up at home in the evening testing out new bubble guns and the bath bombs the Easter bunny left.

All weekend I just felt so aware that Easters like this with young kids with all their egg hunting and matching jammies and excitability are so short lived. I’m thankful we were able to experience it to the fullest.

the importance of a girls’ trip

I’ve seen the articles floating around on Facebook talking about just how important taking a girl getaway is and I recently took one!

I have to say I agree.

It’s not like I don’t ever go places with friends. In fact, the last few years have been pretty jam-packed with bachelorette weekends. But those weekends have an agenda and it’s not to sit around and relax.

As much fun as a bachelorette party is, you typically come home exhausted, not refreshed.

My recent girls’ trip happened to fall on my 30th birthday and it was such a great time with even greater friends!

People out at dinner often asked what the occasion for our vacation was–we’d tell how we had all 6 actually graduated high school together in the same small town and this was the year we all turned 30! They thought it was a cool reason for a trip.

I am lucky enough to get to experience a variety of vacations. Sometimes it’s my little immediate family. Sometimes it includes parents and siblings or in laws, and sometimes it’s just my husband and myself.

All of these types of vacations are important, but because of things like mom guilt and limited time off work, I can see how the girls’ getaway can fall low on the vacation totem pole.

Vacations with my kids are memory makers and I absolutely treasure them, but kids are still kids and they need you on vacation just like they do anywhere else.

Vacations with my husband are also too few and far between (we’re still planning that honeymoon 4 years later!) and while I am a huge advocate of kid-free trips, we have differing ideas of complete relaxation i.e. a spa day verses golfing.

Large family trips are so worth scheduling but with multiple families and a greater number of people under one roof they can be higher energy and usually pretty busy.

A girls’ getaway is different.

On a girls’ trip you may sit in your robe for 2 hours after waking up reading a book with a mud mask on your face. 5 other girls may be doing the same thing. OR 1 could be at the gym, some could be at the store, some may have gone for a walk down the beach and some may still be sleeping in.

Everyone is an adult and it doesn’t matter.

On a girls’ trip you discover a new face cream or hair gel because you’re all sharing—you’re offering up anything from a lipstick to a sundress to books to sandals you packed to all the girls.

If you get rained in you aren’t trying to entertain bored kids. Instead you’d just pour a mimosa and open up a magazine.

The TV never comes on because you can all gab until 2am no questions asked.

The relaxation and bonding that takes place on a girls’ trips makes it a must! It’s a vacation unlike any other.

I’m so thankful for these ladies for celebrating my 30th and extra thankful to my husband for holding down the fort at home with ease (as usual!) so I could go!

I slept in til after 9 most days and came home so ready to do a spring clean-out of the yard and tackle a few home projects—that’s rested!

the paycheck to paycheck budgeting method

Living paycheck to paycheck does not sound like something to strive for. For many this is a term that means they are struggling waiting on payday every time. And yes, there are plenty of times I have been waiting on payday!

But, with intentional “paycheck to paycheck” budgeting, you can be in control. It’s a term that I’d use to describe how I budget and how I make the Dave Ramsey plan work for us.

Have you ever thought that the ideal world would be one where you don’t even notice when you get paid because you have that much money in your account at all times? Sounds nice, right?

I used to think so. Then I considered the waste and impulse that goes hand in hand with having excess money all the time.

If you had $22 in your account, you probably aren’t going to go out to eat with the family that night. You may cook at home with what you already have instead. And you’d avoid throwing good food out.

You get where I’m going with this. If you have more money than you need for your basics, then you may find yourself swiping your debit card 10 times a day on things you don’t need at all.

Instead of living in the world where you can spend without care, I decided the ideal world is one where you can be intentional with every paycheck and build wealth or payoff debt (whichever stage you’re in) while still living comfortably and planning splurges/fun things.

So, I budget and look at our spending from a paycheck to paycheck standpoint. Here are my tips if you’d like to try it:

  1. Write out your monthly earnings broken up into paychecks. We are lucky that our two bi-weekly paychecks hit at opposite times, so I can budget for a once a week payday. If you have X amount from your paycheck for the first half of the month, write it down. If you have a paycheck that varies in hours or includes commissions, write down the low to average amount. Now instead of looking at an entire month, look at each pay period individually.
  2. Write out when all of your debts come due each month. Example: you may know that daycare is due every Friday and your mortgage is the first of every month. Utilities bills come in the mail around the 10th and the internet is due on the 15th . Write all of those constants down along with the date due. Then choose a dollar amount estimate for things like weekly groceries, gas, out to eat, and even a miscellaneous. Just get familiar with what comes due when and how much you spend on basics each pay period so there are no surprises.
  3. Move each payment around each paycheck. You probably don’t want to pay the mortgage, the utilities, and the car payment all on the 1st of the month if you get 4 different paychecks that month. They may all be due on the first of the month, but you can plan ahead. Our mortgage is due the 1st but we pay it on the 20th of the month prior because that’s the paycheck I chose to designate for the mortgage. Spread things out so the obligations are evenly spaced and you never feel maxed out at any given point.
  4. Budget down to zero. This is a Dave Ramsey concept, but he does it monthly. I find it easier to be accurate if I do this with each paycheck. Let’s say you know $1000 comes in this pay period and you already know that this paycheck goes towards daycare – $200, utilities – $200, groceries – $100, gas – $100 and misc. – $100. So you know that you have $300 between now and the next paycheck. I like to think of it like this: that money needs a job to do and you have to choose. Don’t waste it because it’s “extra”, do something with this money—save it or pay down debt! TIP – I like to be wait until the day before the next paycheck is due and then I find a home for the money. That way if something truly last minute comes up, you’re okay.
  5. Treat every pay period as its own. If you are going on vacation that same week of the scenario above, then I would not do anything with that “extra” $300 because it’s an unusual week with heavier spending that normal. If you have a week where you have been invited to your parents’ for dinner, then spend less at the grocery store and buy one less meal. If it’s t-ball registration that week, budget for it. This is my favorite part of budgeting paycheck to paycheck. Each week is different, and the idea is to adjust the plan every time. Its okay to say there was nothing leftover that week because it all had an intended purpose. The purpose doesn’t have to be saving, it can be having fun! It’s also okay to realize you had a low-key week and didn’t use the miscellaneous fund or gas money and you have even more “leftover” to reach your goals!
  6. Start all over. Once a paycheck has been used to pay debts/bills, food, entertainment and whatever else was planned for that pay period AND you have done something intentional with whatever was remaining, (be it $50 or $500!) you’ll start all over again with a fresh paycheck and a plan for that period.

Overall, this method has worked well for us and allowed us to focus on my car and get it paid off in a year. Almost every paycheck, some “leftover” went to the car no matter how small. And yes that means I often times submitted 4 small payments in one month. Sure, I could have spent 5 years paying it off and probably not budgeted at all, but I am almost positive any “extra” money I had laying around would have disappeared. Instead, we were intentional and paid the car off which allows more “extra money” each month for another goal.

Don’t be afraid to make budgeting work for you. I follow Dave Ramsey concepts such as paying off the smallest debt first via the debt snowball and the idea of budgeting to a zero balance, BUT I found it was difficult to do one full month at a time. Things pop up and those things cost money. A pay period at a time has proven to be more my speed, which is why I like budgeting paycheck to paycheck.

I don’t usually write about money because it’s not something everyone likes to talk about…but I just enjoy budgeting. I like having goals for the future and working on those as a family. And I like knowing that I’m not spending just to spend and filling my house up with stuff I don’t need (I am an aspiring minimalist but you’d laugh if you saw the playroom!).

Most importantly, we also like to live a little and do not follow Dave Ramsey’s “gazelle-like intensity” motto. I think there is a huge middle ground option that people don’t talk about enough.

Knowing where your money goes is half the battle. My advice to anyone who wants to start budgeting is to pay attention to that, write it down, and make any adjustments needed. And then when you’ve figured out what that “leftover” amount is after basic needs, do something with it. Spend it, save it, pay off your car early. Just knowing what you’re doing with it puts you in control.

“You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.” – Dave Ramsey