Bags, babies, beauty, and whatever else crosses my mind...

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Stay at Home Mom - Family Budgeting

It was requested on my YouTube channel 'Being Mommy with Style' to tackle the subject of family budgeting when you are a stay at home mom.

This is such a complex topic, I'm planning on it being a multi-part series and I would love an answer any questions you have about budgeting or how to get started. We've had a family budget since my husband and I were newly married, without children, and both working. Our budget has evolved over the years as our needs changed, we were able to gather more data to figure out what we spent on average in certain categories, and we learned what categories were "trouble" categories for us.

We keep all of our data in an Excel spreadsheet, and while it has a number of formulas linking pages together and the like, the idea is quite simple. Track where we are spending money, make sure we are using it to the most of our advantage, and stay within budget.

I've offered to share a "blank" template of our budget with my YouTube viewers, and I will do so in this post.

I have had people ask me to share our specific budgeting numbers, and my take on this is: budgets are an individual thing. You really have to work within your own parameters, your location, your situation,  and honestly not worry about comparing your budget numbers to other people that may be in different financial situations. Some people will need to alocate money towards commutes (tolls, higher amounts of fuel, more vehicle expenses), other people may have short commutes, but have a job that requires going out to lunch more often. If you have two incomes, you may need to account for different things such as daycare and additional doctor visits.

So I have opted to not share specific numbers and instead share a framework. I'm hoping that will be helpful to those that had questions and please let me know any additional questions you have about budgeting, getting started with a family budget, or saving. I would be happy to help give opinions from our perspective since we have budgeted for a number of years. (Keeping in mind I'm not a financial planner, ha!)

Here is the template of the budget that can be used in Excel:

Please do not distribute or use for any commercial means. Thank you!

Check out the video on this subject here:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Pre-School at Home Weekly Themes - A to Z

While working on our "Pre-School at Home" project, I started coming up with a number of theme ideas to have for each week. Some weeks, like "Perfectly Polar", I came up with a fun word pair that started with the same letter - and others it is just a fun play on the letter. We are not going through them in A through Z order and have opted for a random order for the themes to be introduced instead, but it would be a fun idea to share our theme ideas in order.

A - Amazing Alphabet
B - Bold Bears
C - Captivating Colors
D - Dashing Dinosaurs
    - Dramatic Dress-up
E - Enormous Elephants
    - Excellent Earth Week
F - Friendly Farm Animals
   - Fun with Frogs
   - Fabulous Fairy Tales
G - Great Grammar
H - Happy at Home
I - Incredible Imagination (Fits with Dr. Seuss week)
J - Jungle Animals
K - Kaleidoscopic of Kindness
L - Lots of Love (Valentine's Day week theme)
M - Marvelous Music
N - All about Numbers
O - Outstanding Opposites
P - Perfectly Polar
Q - Quirky questions
R - Ready to Read
    - Realistic Reading
S - Super Shapes
T - Terrific Trains
U - Under the Sea
V - Vegetables
W - Wonderful Weather 
    - Winter Fun (S)
X - eXtra special, eXtraordinary week
Y - Yo ho, it's a Pirates life for me! (Pirates week)
Z - Zany Zebras

Some weeks we are also planning on having a focus on some of our favorite authors, including Dr. Suess and Eric Carle.

** Weekly Themes in purple signify themes we have already completed as a part of the pre-school at home program.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Busy Bags for Toddlers!

This is the project that I have been working on recently for an upcoming Mom's Group play date! We are exchanging busy bags, for the toddlers to have a variety of quiet activities to... well, keep them busy! I had never heard of this concept until I saw this event come up on the play date calendar - and I was intrigued!

After I began to look into it, I realized what a vast world of ideas there were out there for these... and I'm very excited for our first Busy Bag exchange! I can't wait to see what the girls think of the different activities!

I made two felt activities, inspired by the activities shared on Happy Hawkins blog, which I found via Pinterest. Pinterest has proved to be a wealth of ideas for busy bags (as it is with every subject, it seems) and I've already planned on doing a number of these projects for the girls!

The first is a coral reef or aquarium scene:

And the second is a "What's for Dinner?" scene, where they can chose different food to put on the plate:

What busy bags are your favorite for your toddlers?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pre-School at Home: Week 7

Week 7 was all about... Lots of Love!!

It was Valentine's Day week and we focused on love, hearts, and lots of pink! The letter of the week was "L" and appropriately, the number of the week was 14!

For an art project, we completed the "L is for Lion" alphabet project:

And we also had lots of Valentine's Day themed decorations on our bulletin board!

It was a busy week for us, with lots of play dates, classes, and even a birthday party that we attended - so our preschool schedule was fairly light. We still had a lot of fun participating in Valentine's Day activities and doing some festive projects.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Making Heart Shaped Crayons for Valentine's Day!

Making heart shaped crayons for Valentine's Day week turned out to be pretty easy!

In just a few simple steps, I melted down the old, broken crayons we had been stowing away in the kitchen drawer - and turned them into festively themed crayons for this week!

1. Sort crayons by color
2. Separate crayons into cans that have been washed out (I found it particularly handy to do this project after I made a batch of chili!)
3. Boil a few cups of water and add the can into the water to melt the crayons
4. Let sit in the water for about 5 minutes until the crayons are fully melted
5. Pour into silicone mold and let cool

Easy peasy!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Pre-School at Home Week 6: Marvelous Music!

We had a great time with "Marvelous Music" week around our house! We made instruments, danced to music, and talked about basic music concepts like music symbols.

Making a music book was one of the best parts of the week for me, because it combined the weekly theme with an art project. I think this will definitely be a concept we do in future weeks as well and will serve as a great reference when we revisit the subject in future weeks as well.

For our letter art project, we did "M is for Mouse" based on templates I found on Pinterest.

We also enjoyed reading music related books, talking about instruments, and doing a few worksheets as well. It was a week of music and fun!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Pre-School at Home: Week 6 Lesson Plan

Our lesson plan for Week 6 of Pre-School at Home!

Our theme is:

Letter of the Week is "M"
Number of the Week is 4

Check out our full weekly lesson plan on google documents: Pre-School at Home Week 6

Download the weekly theme header HERE

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Pre-School at Home: Week 5 Vlog

For week 5 of Preschool at Home, our theme was "Wonderful Weather"!

We had a great time introducing weather elements and talking about the different weather we had over the week. And it was the perfect week to talk weather, because we had a wide range of weather in Illinois this week! Everything from 50 degrees and raining... to 0 degrees and snowing!

For art projects we did a "W is for Watermelon" craft.

Read books about different weather elements:

And the newest addition was... the weather panda! A great preschool item to talk about weather, you dress the panda daily according to the weather! This will be staying in our play room even after weather week is over, so that we can continue to talk about weather and keep as a part of our daily routine.