A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words...or in my Case, a Great Mother's Day Gift!

Pictures are so important to me.  And unfortunately, I don't have the kind of husband who gets excited about taking photos for me, especially the candid photos that I love oh so much.  So this year, for Mother's Day, I went ahead and booked myself a Mommy & Me session with a local photographer.  The session included copyright to five photos...but of course, I couldn't pick just five so I shelled out $50 for five more!  (Now I know why she takes so many more...tricky tricky!)  Hey, they're only little once, right?!

Becca Blackburn Photography

Outfit Deets:
dress \\ mama necklace \\ earrings \\ shoes
(Boys outfits are old)

Saving Some Serious Moolah with Wikibuy

This post is sponsored by Wikibuy. #ad

Hi, friends!  Just popping in for some old fashion sharing of a good deal!  Raise your hand if you enjoy saving money.


That's what I thought.  Have you heard of the website Wikibuy?  I hadn't either until about a month ago.  

What is it, you ask?  Wikibuy operates as a website and Chrome extension that finds you the best deals across the web on products you love!  Wikibuy does not sell the products; they do, however, match you with the best prices on the products you are going to purchase anyway!

Here's how you can use Wikibuy to help save you money:
(I'll demonstrate a few of the options below.)

1 // Use Wikibuy to compare prices when shopping Amazon.com.

2 // Use Wikibuy to find and apply coupon codes from hundreds of retailers.  Retailers like my faves --> Target and Old Navy! 🙌🙌🙌

3 // Use Wikibuy to get credit back on purchases.  (I assume this option is similar to Ebates, but I haven't specifically looked into it.)

4 // Use Wikibuy to notify you when prices drop.

Consider Wikibuy your online personal shopping assistant.  It's easy.  And free.  Check the 60-second video at this link for an explanation better than what I can give. 😉

Now, let me demonstrate a few of the money-saving options.

First up, Amazon.  It's 2018.  We all do a ton of shopping on Amazon, amiright?  When shopping on Amazon, Wikibuy will compare their price with prices across the web.  Take this swimsuit for example.  The Wikibuy extension will verify that Amazon has the lowest price on this suit.  If they do not, Wikibuy will direct you to the website with lowest price, and I believe, Wikibuy factors in shipping (or Prime lack of shipping) costs.  You can also add the item to your Watchlist, allowing you to watch for deals and sales on that specific item.  Genius, right?!

Also, don't you totally want this suit now?  Here's the link to buy for anyone interested.

Super cool, but those options aren't even my favorite part of Wikibuy.  You guys--Wikibuy helped me save over $100 when shopping at Gap.com!  Allow me to demonstrate. 

Here's my GAP cart before Wikibuy.  $239 and some change.  

The Wikibuy extension will prompt you to 'try codes' and once you do, Wikibuy will test several available coupons codes and find you the best deal on what you are going to buy anyway!  Here's a screenshot of Wikibuy working its magic.

And *drumroll please* here is my cart after Wikibuy.  $132 and five cents.  That's over $100 in savings!!

Sure, I probably could have Googled the same coupon codes, but let's be real, how often does one actually do that?!  Plus, when I'm ready to checkout, I usually have to do it quickly before my conscience kicks in and tells me I don't need all. the. things. after all.

Wikibuy also offers shopping directly from their website and you can add a credit card to get a percentage back whenever you purchase from one of their featured brands; however, I haven't explored either option in depth yet.

Are you convinced?  If you're interested in saving yourself some serious money, download the Wikibuy Chrome extension --> here <-- and happy shopping!

Blogging, Lately

Hello?  Is there anyone in the world who still follows blogs?  Because I can't tell you the last time I read or commented on any of the beloved blogs I followed for years.

What about this blog?  Anyone who still follows this blog?  Is there anyone who actually misses my posts?  Please comment if you do and maybe it'll give me the motivation to draft a few posts!  Seriously though, leave me a comment, something as simple as "Me!" if you still consistently read blogs, read my blog.  So what if you've never commented.  Who cares if you don't know me personally.  I would honestly love to know if there's anyone still out there!

Anyway, I've been noticeably absent.  I've written fewer blog posts than the months of this year.  I hate it that I no longer have the time or energy to record our memories.  Craig recently asked me why.  The answer is simple and two-fold.  

First off, three kids.  I absolutely adore having three kids but the energy required to care for three kids is exponentially greater than that required to care for one.  Also, my kids are growing older.  I find myself less excited about putting everything out there for the whole world to see.  As much as I think my children might look back and appreciate the recorded memories, there's a part of me that thinks they may resent it.  Like when their friends...or girlfiends...are old enough to read.  What are they / their peers going to think if they stumble upon my blog?  Are my boys going to appreciate being the subject of their mommy's Internet hobby?  Truthfully, who knows.

But back to the growing older thing.  With older ages also comes later bedtimes.  I used to be guaranteed at least two full hours to myself between their bedtime and mine.  Now, however, I'm lucky to get an hour.  An hour is not enough to put my thoughts onto the computer screen, let alone upload, edit, and insert photos into a post, especially given my slower-than-molasses laptop these days.  Besides, I'm usually too tired to do anything but scroll mindlessly on social media.  (See sentence two of previous paragraph.)

Which leads me to my next point.  Social media has changed.  Blogging just isn't what it was five years ago.  And that saddens me.

I used to really enjoy following the mommy + lifestyle blogs that were similar to my own.  Whether or not I personally knew the blogger, there was something very comforting about going through the same phases of motherhood with all these other bloggers across the U.S.  Blog reading was my number one hobby.  It's what I did in my free time.  I would check my Bloglovin' feed before any other form of social media, including Instagram.  Today, I'm like "Bloglovin', what's that?"  I haven't logged in for dayyyyys months.  However, I've certainly scrolled through Instagram once...or ten times...already today.

Blogging has become very scripted.  Never mind the authenticity of a blog post anymore.  You can't just read someone's true or real-life thoughts.  It's all about #sponsored posts all the time, and if not a sponsored post, you better believe the post is full of affiliate links.  Everyone wants to make a buck, or be "blog famous".  Did that person really like that product, or were they paid to say that?  You can't believe what you read and won't read what you believe.  Today more than ever, it's all about numbers--how many likes, how many followers, how many pageviews--and less about genuinely wanting to share.

Beyond that, Instagram seems to be the new Blogger, amiright?  Required is a pretty, cohesive feed, witty captions, and eye-pleasing, yet candidly gorgeous, photos.  The kind of photos that require either a professional photographer or a willing Instagram husband.  Neither of which I have or want to spend the money on.  And the witty captions?  Can we all just agree that they're for the likes?  Half the time, I don't even believe the captions to be true.  

On one hand, I get it.  I've certainly done my fair share of sponsored posts on this itty bitty blog.  And have you seen my perfectly cohesive School in Style account?  Part of the reason I started that account was because I enjoy clothes / fashion / shopping and posting a daily outfit photo is quicker and far easier than having to compose an entire blog post.  Another reason, affiliate links!  Although never my main goal, I thought that if I could make a little money to support my love of shopping, it would be worth the investment!  It satisfied my need for a hobby--a creative outlet--while also being an easier replacement to traditional blogging.  So I'm totally guilty of all the same things I'm sad about.

Making money via social media can be exciting, and getting free product is a definite perk.  But at the same time, it's. not. everything.

I hate that it's come to this.  I hate that, for me and many others, blogging has fallen to the back burner because of what blogging has become.  (Ironic, right?)  I hate that I no longer have the energy or the motivation to put my words and photos on the Internet.  I hate that I can't go back and look at our Christmas or Halloween recaps or the boys' first day of preschool from last year.  Why?  Because those blog posts don't exist.  Blogging was always a priority for me.  An out.  Therapy, if you will.

Perhaps blogging is coming to an end for me.  Or maybe I'll turn a new leaf, dig deep, and find some motivation.  (I wouldn't hold your breath.)  Only time will tell.

So if you've wondered where I've been, there's the answer.  This post has been brewing in my head for months now and it feels good to finally get it on paper the Internet.

What do you think about blogging in 2018?  What has it become?  Or what will it become?  Do you enjoy the "influencers" of this day and age, or are you like me, and wish we could go back to the good ole days of blogging and authentically wanting to share?

Here's a photo simply because a blog post without a photo is like a bag of chips with no salsa. 😉

Living to the Full at the Big 12 Tourney!

This post is sponsored by Phillips 66. #partner

March ranks up there as one of my favorite months.  Warm(ish) weather, Daylight Savings, Spring Break, St. Patty's Day.  It's such a breath of fresh air after the long and dark winter.  I'm even a big fan of basketball during the month of March.  So when Phillips 66 reached out with an opportunity to attend the Big 12 tournament, and with a husband and kids who adore sports, I couldn't say no!

I loaded up the boys after school on Thursday and headed towards downtown to meet Craig, who had been there all day for "work".  We made a quick stop on the way at Phillips 66 to fill up with gas using their new Mobile Pay option on the My Phillips 66 app.  It was super easy to use and the app has so many great features, like displaying the nearest Philips 66 as soon as you open it.

Once my gas tank was full, it was onward to downtown.  I wasn't about to brave the traffic (and parking situation) near the Sprint Center, so I parked a ways away and we hopped on the street car!  Riding the street car may have as big a highlight as the rest of the night!  (Thanks to the sweet girl who took our photo while waiting for it to arrive.)

When we finally made to the Power & Light District, we met up with Daddy and visited the Phillips 66 game zone outside of the Sprint Center.  To say the boys loved the games would be a huge understatement!  The came away with some Phillips 66 goodies that they think is a pretty big deal!

Craig goes every year, but I had never been to the Power & Light District for the Big 12 Tournament.  Not that I was surprised, but uber impressed with how this city transform in order to host such an ordeal!

We finally made our way into the game and got to see Texas Tech defeat Texas.  It was the boys' first college basketball experience and though we missed seeing the Jayhawks play by a few hours (darn work schedule) but we were donning our Rock Chalk apparel anyway!

We only stayed for the first - of two - evening games and once again, enjoyed a ride on the street car en route back to our van.  It's always nice to do something unconventional, especially on a weeknight, especially when it means exploring this city that we very much love!

Our strategy as parents has always been to not allow our children to rule our lives or to stop us from doing the things we want, which goes right along with Phillips 66's tagline "Live to the Full."  So, a huge thanks to Phillips 66 for helping us to do just that while also giving our kids this new and exciting experience!

Last thing, along with Phillips 66, I am giving away five $25 gas cards over on Instagram!  The giveaway ends tonight and right now, your chances of winning are extremely high! 😉

I Dig You, Valentine!

Oh hey, it's the day after Valentine's Day and I'm posting about the boys' Valentines.  Apparently, that's how I roll these days.  But because I like to share and I like to make someone else's life a little easier, I don't care!  So here's a thought--you like the idea and want to use it next year?  Go ahead and pin it to your Valentines board so you don't forget next February. 😉

Anyway, I came to the realization last Friday night that Valentine's Day was just five days away and my children had nothing yet to give to their little school friends.  (Again, that's how I roll!)  While I would have loved buying those cheap little cards and having the boys sign them, the crafty, control-freak in me just couldn't do that.  (Maybe next year.)  However, Walmart did come to the rescue with their cute, pre-made, pun-worthy Valentines.

I bought a box of 10 "I Dig You" Valentines for under $2 (that included mini shovels), threw in some conversation hearts and baggies, and designed my own printable to replace their version.  Holden helped me stuff the baggies and we stapled the printout to each baggie after each boy signed his name.  Looking back, I wish I would have created the printable to fold over the top of the baggie so that the contents were visible, but I didn't and it was what it was!

What You'll Need:
White cardstock 
A color printer 
Scissors or a paper cutter 
 Individual boxes of conversation hearts
Mini toy shovels*
Snack-size baggies

*Look for a box of 10 in the pre-made Valentine section at Walmart!  Otherwise, maybe a dollar store.

 What You'll Do:

1. Download and print this free printable that includes four "I Dig You" Valentines per sheet of paper.

2. Cut length-wise at the 4.25 mark (so you'll have two columns of paper, each 4.25 x 11 inches).  Then cut each Valentine so it measures five inches from top to bottom.  Have your child sign each Valentine.

3. Place box of conversation hearts and shovel into a small baggie.  Seal baggie and staple the Valentine printout to the front.

That's it!  So easy and so cute!

Want some other DIY ideas?  Here are our old Valentines!

Valentine, You Rule
Color Your Heart Out (printable / how to)
You're a Great Catch

Splurge vs. Steal

It's no surprise I enjoy cheap clothes.  Target, Old Navy...those are my stores, my jam.  And here's why.  Why buy expensive when you can get a very similar item for much less money?!

1. Splurge ($188) vs. Steal ($49)

2. Splurge ($79) vs. Steal ($18)

3. Splurge ($78) vs. Steal ($22.97) 

4. Splurge ($98) vs. Steal ($22) 

5. Splurge ($129) vs. Steal ($32) 

6. Splurge ($89) vs. Steal ($20)

7. Splurge ($54.99) vs. Steal ($18.99)

8. Splurge ($68) vs. Steal ($23.99)

(affiliate links)

Speaking of, I converted my School in Style from a group on Facebook to a page.  If you haven't "liked" it here, I'd love for you to! 

Rhett's Donut-Themed First Birthday Party

I have yet to blog Rhett's eight, nine, ten, eleven, and twelve month updates, but his birthday party?  Now that I can do!  Because it's way more fun to recap a cute party.  Especially when the party consists of donuts and drinks at 9:00 in the morning!  I'm certain our neighbors appreciated that. 😉

Anyway, I may have decided on a party theme (buffalo plaid) last December, but I can assure you I didn't start planning until two weeks beforehand and most of my plans came together two days beforehand.  My goal from the get-go was simple.  Instead of making an invite, as I have typically done in the past, I bought one on Etsy.  And instead of sending invites via snail mail, I imported the invite into Paperless Post and send it via email.  Easy, free, and quick.

Yes, you read that 9am start time correctly.  I know, that's crazy early, but hear me out.  December is such a busy time of the year and I didn't want to interrupt anyone's weekend holiday-prep plans.  I wanted it over and done so people could get on with their days.  And besides, I wanted to serve donuts so 9am seemed about perfect.  And you know, because we're "cool parents", we also served Bloody Marys, mimosas, and coffee with Bailey's.  Because let's be honest.  First birthday parties aren't that fun.  Alcohol is generally appreciated.

I ordered the O N E balloons and buffalo plaid party supplies from Party City, made the monthly-photo banner, and borrowed all of the tree stumps from Vanessa.  The cake was from Price Chopper, a local grocery store, and I added the burlap banner to the top myself.  Donuts (including the ones that spelled HAPPY BIRTHDAY RHETT) were from Daylight Donuts.

The details of a party are always my favorite part and they definitely didn't disappoint!

And yes, I bought a shirt to match the party theme.  Because when it's your third and final baby's first birthday, that's just what you do!

Rhett's gift from us was his PB chair.  He has no idea that it spells his name, but somehow he knew right away it was his.

I couldn't tell you what anyone else got him because opening gifts with an uninterested 1-year old and about eight interested 3-5 year olds is very stressful.  (And oh look--the party guests matched the theme!)

Next and final birthday activity - the smash cake.  He loved it, if you can't tell by the next series of photos.

Despite "ending" at 10:30, our neighbors stuck around until after noon.  It was a perfect, perfect morning celebrating our baby and exactly what I had envisioned for his donut-serving, buffalo-plaid themed first birthday party.

Happy birthday, Rhetti Pie!