Wives to Watch in Every Stage of Life - Sadie Banks

Each stage of life looks different and brings unique challenges to every couple. My hope is that you will be inspired by the stories of the women in this series. I hope that their experiences will help you find more ways to make your marriage relationship a priority throughout every stage of your own life.

Sadie is one of my favorite people in the world! She radiates happiness, joy and love for everyone that she meets. I haven't had the opportunity to meet her in person yet (soon!!) but I just know that she brings sunshine with her wherever she goes. She and Parker have a fun relationship and a deep friendship and I admire their dedication and the way that they follow their dreams!

What does it mean to you to prioritize your marriage?

To me, prioritizing your marriage means putting it FIRST. Sometimes that is really, really difficult & sometimes, that's way easy. But I think always making an effort to put your marriage first-- before work, before school, before friends & family members, etc.-- is the simplest way I can think to prioritize your marriage. There are days where I'm drowning in editing, but when Parker gets home from work, we always try to spend at least an hour together doing something we enjoy. (which is usually watching The Office or Parks and Recreation on Netflix... or going out for some Sweet Pork Nachos from Costa Vida) This gives us time together and then when the time comes that we need to do our own things again, we aren't feeling shafted or like we come second to other less-important things. 

How have the different stage you've experienced in life affected how you prioritize your relationship with each other?

Again, we try to spend some time together before doing our own separate things. Especially in the small amounts of time that we do have together. Parker leaves for work before I do and then sometimes I am gone before he comes home, so on those days, we make a special effort to do something together before bed. This has always been a thing for us, but over the last year I've come to really appreciate the fact that I have Parker to go through this life with. Over the last year, we have been struggling with infertility and that has really brought me to some new lows & unexpected dark places.

I'm so grateful that Parker and I prioritized one another, our marriage and relationship from the very start because I've come to realize that even if we are never able to have kids, our marriage is not lessened by that fact. In fact, our trial of infertility has actually really strengthened our marriage because we have to rely on one another & spend ample amounts of time together. It's just me and him. And we've decided that no matter when we have kids, we will enjoy our life together & still go on tons of adventures because when all is said & done, at the end of our lives, it'll still just be me and him. Kids grow up and move out. But our marriage is forever and knowing that has really helped us to prioritize our marriage & try to be the best we can be-- no matter the season of life.

What are some rituals/traditions that you have with your spouse?

We aren't very good at rituals or traditions... (it seems like every time we call something a "tradition" we forget to do it the next day, week, or year...hah!) But we do have a few things that we do regularly. We try to pray together every morning and evening. We go on dates pretty regularly-- we could use some work in planning said dates better... we are very spontaneous with date nights (I suppose that's a perk of not having kids yet?). We go to church together every week. And we always go to bed at the same time-- we don't necessarily fall asleep at the same time, but we are always ready for bed and in bed at the same time. Oh! And every year we take a picture at our bench. (you can read more about our bench here)

How have the obstacles and challenges that you've faced as a couple made you a stronger team?

As I mentioned earlier, we have been struggling with infertility over the course of the last 16 months. When we first started this journey, one of my sisters (who also struggles with infertility) told me that she was grateful for their journey because it brought them closer together as a couple. And I echo that. Most of the time I have a really hard time finding something to be grateful for with this journey we are on, but I will always be grateful for how close it has brought Parker and I.

I was thinking about this the other day and I am so grateful for our friends and family who have rallied around us and prayed for us, we will never be able to thank them enough for their love and support. But I can never, ever thank God and thank Parker enough for the times when Parker has just held me as I've cried, or stayed up late because I can't stop crying in the middle of the night, or brought home donuts or taken me to the Costco food court to get a hot dog because he knows those things make me happy.

Before we got married, I knew that Parker loved me and that he would provide and protect me, but I definitely underestimated how much he loved me. And this long struggle has definitely showed me a portion of that love. (Please note, this trial hasn't been hard on only me, but I do want to protect Parker's privacy in any way that I can, which is why I'm only sharing my half of the trial.) We've had to be vulnerable with one another. We've had to rely on one another to make the other happy. We've had to sacrifice small wants for a greater one. We've had to find other things that fill the void for now. We've had to buoy the other up spiritually & rely on one another's faith & testimony. And while this isn't over (and I'm not sure it ever will be over), I am grateful for the way infertility has strengthened our marriage.

Tell me something that you hope to be able to do together in the future?

Parker and I hope to be able to own our own business together! We would also like to be home owners one day! And travel the world. Basically we just want to settle down & enjoy each other's company for the rest of forever. 

Click here to read more interviews in the Wives to Watch in Every Stage of Life Series

Snuggle Up for a Little Autumn Romance

Fall comes with gorgeous canyon drives, delicious comfort food, and lots of cuddling. And when I looked back on my spring romance post, I realized that fall also brings with it the glorious "fall back" part of Daylight Savings. Too bad the chances of our kids appreciating that extra hour of sleep is little to none. That little detail aside, I look forward to fall starting every single year. I love to decorate, Joe and I get to celebrate our birthdays together and we reminisce on fall 2010 when we fell in love.

Two months, that's the length of time between the first day of fall and Thanksgiving. After that, winter seems to hit in full force either with snow or frigid cold temperatures. I plan on taking full advantage of these two months and fitting in as many romantic fall activities as we possibly can. If you're looking for some fun ways to bring the spark back into your marriage this fall, I've listed a few ideas below! 

Hot Chocolate

If you were to ask me my favorite drink, I would definitely have to say that it's hot chocolate. From the beginning of our relationship, Joe and I have enjoyed many cups of hot chocolate together. I love sitting on the porch as the sun is going down or watching a rain storm from inside the house while we drink from our favorite mugs. I've also been on a hunt for the best hot chocolate around town. So far, Dunkin' Donuts and Maverik have my favorite along with a local chocolate shop. We have a hot chocolate maker like this one (affiliate link), and ever since I first started using one, I refuse to go back to mixing my hot chocolate by hand. If you don't own a hot chocolate maker and drink a decent amount of it, I'd highly suggest that you purchase one, it's worth every penny!

Fall Festivals

Corn mazes, hay rides, pumpkin patches, fresh donuts and so much more. We took our family to a fall festival just this past weekend and had so much fun that I want to find one to visit every single week. There's nothing more fun and fall appropriate than wandering through a corn maze together and enjoying some fall food afterward. You could even carve pumpkins together afterward!

View the Fall Leaves

I love watching the mountains near our house change colors throughout the season. The leaves have already started changing and I love it! Seek out the best fall leaf locations near you then plan a long drive or hike to view them. If you take pictures in the fall, this is a great opportunity to get those taken as well. I have my favorite place to view fall leaves, but I'm on a mission this year to experience a few new locations for variety!

Leaf It All Behind Date

This fall date night idea (affiliate link) with free printables from The Dating Divas is a fun way to spice up your date night activities this season! It includes conversation starters, activity cards and a few other things to help you plan the perfect seasonal date night!

Fall Love Notes

With my husband's birthday and the anniversary of our first date/when we fell in love, I tend to get a bit sappy this time every year. The Dating Divas have these free printable fall love notes (affiliate link) perfect for adding a bit of love to your spouse's day. Pop them in their lunch, hide them around the house, or leave one sitting next to their plate at dinnertime.

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I "Fall" For You Gift Basket

This gift basket (affiliate link) from The Dating Divas is a great way to kick off the season and your fall romance! Throw in your favorite fall treats, the ingredients for caramel apples, some love notes, and a fall activities bucket list that the two of you can work through.

Harry Potter Marathon

What is it about this time of year that makes everyone think of Harry Potter. It's one of my favorite book/movie series, and actually a big part of mine and Joe's love story. We watched all of the movies together during the first month or two that we were dating because Joe had never seen them before. Every year, I have the best intentions to have a marathon in celebration of our "dateiversary" but October is a busy month for us so it usually doesn't happen. I'm hoping to change that this year and am looking forward to testing out all of these Butterbeer recipes to find our favorite for future marathons.

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Fall will be over before we know it, and we won't get to enjoy the crisp air and warm colors for another year. Take advantage of the beauty while it's here and the opportunities the season provides for connection in your marriage.

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8 Ways to Foster a Good Relationship Between Your Kids and Your Pet

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GigglesandWigges #CollectiveBias Because of my partnership with Gerber, my little one is ineligible to win the Gerber Photo Search or a weekly prize, but you may be eligible so make sure you submit a photo of your baby and/or pet!

A lot of you know our dog Howie. He is a four and a half year old Shorkie (Shih Tzu/Yorkie) and the sweetest puppy anyone could ever ask for. Howie joined our family two years before any kids came along. He was used to a calm, quiet environment where he had the freedom to enjoy life wherever he pleased. These days he shares attention and living space with two little ones who are anything but calm and quiet. As our little family has grown, it has been our goal to build a happy and safe relationship between our kids and our dog. We know that they will all be the best of friends if we do our part to teach them how to interact well with each other while they're still young. Two and a half years into this parenting thing, we've learned a few important lessons for fostering that healthy, happy relationship.

Prepare Your Puppy for Change

When I was pregnant with Emmy, we did everything that we could to prepare Bensen to become a big brother. We talked often about the exciting changes that would be happening, what that meant for him and how he could help. Talking to him often about the new baby helped Bensen to prepare for those changes and recognize that we still loved him very much, even though the amount of attention we'd be able to give him was about to change.

With Howie, it wasn't that easy. With both pregnancies, he knew that change was coming, but he didn't understand what until we brought the baby home. We wanted him to feel like he was still an important part of our home and was not being replaced. We did everything that we possibly could to make that transition easy on him.

Encourage Interaction

From the day we brought our babies home from the hospital, we have let Howie be near the kids. We supervised the interactions closely, but there was never any trouble. Howie was used to cuddling on the couch with us while we watched movies, and hanging out wherever we were. We didn't want him to feel like he was no longer welcome to be near us if there was a baby around. It was fun to watch his concern whenever one of the babies would make a noise and how he would position himself to watch over them as they napped. As each child grew and became mobile, Howie got more excited. He'd sit near them on blankets, bring his toys over to ask them to play and they were always the first to get his attention when we got home from an outing. 

Teach the Kids How to Play

Joe and I both spend time playing with Howie on a daily basis. He likes to play tug-a-war and he loves it when someone will throw his toys for him. We will often get Bensen and Emmy to join us and show them the way that Howie likes to play. I love to watch Emmy pull one of Howie's toys out of the box and take it to wherever he's laying to get him to come and play with her. She's been known to bring every single toy to him until she finds the one that interests him in playing with her. Howie will also bring toys to Emmy and squeak them up against her leg so that she'll play with him. It's been fun to see Howie recognize that the kids are his friends and can be a lot of fun.

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Teach the Baby to be Soft

As soon as Bensen and Emmy started to show interest in playing with Howie, we started teaching them how to be soft with him. There is always something new to work on. Emmy has mastered petting him softly but is working on not smacking him in the face with his toys when she wants him to play. Bensen knows how to play soft but needs a little reminding when he and Howie start having too much fun and things get a little rough. There are some days when I get to play referee and break up fights because someone took the other person's toy and they're fighting over it, but for the most part, they all get along.

Give the Dog a Safe Space

Howie is still a puppy in a lot of ways, but unlike when he was a couple of years younger, he likes a good balance of play and rest. On the other hand, Bensen and Emmy seem to gain more energy as they play. When the dog gets tired or sick of playing, we like to let him have some peace so that he can rest. Most times we encourage Howie go sit in his favorite spot on top of the couch and watch out the window while the kids continue to play in the other room. Other times you'll find him asleep underneath our bed, in the very center, so that nobody can reach him. And he'll often go hang out in the backyard when things get too crazy inside the house. 

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Include Everyone in Family Outings

We have a goodbye routine whenever we leave the house and Howie doesn't get to come with us. He gets a treat, we tell him "goodbye" (if you don't, he cries when you leave, legitimately cries) and make sure that he has water and that his door to the backyard isn't shut. When we come home, we always find him sitting in the front window, waiting for us to come home. He greets us with so much enthusiasm and brings one of his favorite toys with him in hopes that we'll start playing the minute we walk in the door. But he loves his life even more if he gets to come on outings with us. We take the entire family on picnics to the park, we go for walks around the neighborhood, we'll all play together in the backyard, and sometimes we'll go on a long drive. It's the greatest day in Howie's life when he gets to join us in our family fun!

Know When to Separate the Kids and the Dog

I mentioned that we make sure Howie gets a break from the kids and feels safe in our home. There are a lot of times when everyone is playing and things get a little too exciting. The kids get carried away and Howie's having fun playing, but you can tell that things are getting a little wild. That's when I pack everyone up to go on a walk, we'll leave Howie in one room with the toys he was playing with while the kids and I start another activity somewhere else, or I'll send Howie outside while Bensen and I clean up what they were playing with. We work really hard to teach our kids how to interact nicely with the dog, but they are young and sometimes don't recognize his limits.

Let the Kids Help

We started having Bensen help us feed Howie a while back and now it is his favorite thing to do. He loves to get in the pantry, scoop up the dog food and carry it carefully over to dump it in Howie's dish. He likes to give Howie his treats and help hold his leash on our walks as well. We love to include the kids in taking care of the dog for multiple reasons. 1 - they learn responsibility and how to take care of someone other than themselves. We make sure that Howie has food before we sit down at the table for our meals and find a way to include him in our activities throughout the day. Howie recognizes the kids as people who care for him and help to provide his basic needs and the kids learn to love the dog more when they help with his daily routines.

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This year is the 8th annual Gerber® Baby Photo Search and it has a fun component that makes it more relevant to today's parents. The photo search begins 9/13/17 and ends on 10/27/17. People may enter by posting a photo of their child on Instagram (must be a public account). There are two different competitions you can enter!

Gerber's Photo Search

  • You may enter by posting a photo of your child on Instagram (must be a public account) using the hashtag #GerberPhotoSearch2017
  • Photo search begins 9/13/17 and ends 10/27/17
  • You can enter up to 10 times
  • Grand prize is $50,000 -- can be used toward child's education

Giggles and Wiggles Purina/Gerber Photo Search

  • Additionally there are (6) weekly winners of Giggles and Wiggles prize packs, one winner chosen by judges each week of the photo search.
  • A qualifying entry for the Giggles and Wiggles Photo Search would be a photo of both pet and baby.
  • These entries should use both #GerberPhotoSearch2017 and #GerberGigglesandWiggles
  • Each weekly winner will receive $500 cash prize pack, a one year supply of Gerber baby food (valued at $600) and a one year supply of Purina pet food (valued at $540).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Legal residents of the 50 United States (D.C.) and Puerto Rico, who are 18 years of age or older, have a valid Instagram account and/or email address, and are parents of a child 48 months of age or younger and meet certain background check requirements. Enter search by: 11:59:59pm ET on 10/27/17. For Official Rules, including eligibility and entry requirements, judging criteria and prize descriptions, visit www.Gerber.com/photosearch2017/rules. Void where prohibited.

We purchase our Gerber® and Purina® ONE® products at Target, taking care of all of our pet and baby needs in one trip!

Gerber® snacks are a go to at our house and can be found often in our pantry and diaper bag. Both Bensen and Emmy enjoy them and we have yet to find a Gerber® snack that they don't like. Gerber® snacks contain real ingredients and no preservatives. Have questions? Head to MyGerber.com to meet Dorothy, your on-call personal baby expert, or call naytime 24/7 at 1-800-284-9488.

Purina® ONE® has been a staple in our home as well, from the time Howie joined us. Purina ONES's Smartblend of ingredients means complete and balanced nutrition that can support your dog's well being at every life stage -- and real meat is always #1. There are no added artificial flavors or preservatives.

I love hearing Bensen ask Howie if he wants to come outside and play with him. It makes me smile when Emmy squeals because she notices Howie sitting on the couch next to where she's playing. Our kids have a pet they can love, take care of and play with. They've learned to share their toys, be gentle when playing, and care for another living creature. I'm grateful that we made a decision from the beginning to do our part to help build that health relationship between our kids and our dog rather than keeping them separated or letting the kids force us to get rid of our pet who we care for a lot.

Your pets and your children can be the best of friends for life, if you make an effort to help them build a good relationship from the beginning.

Wives to Watch in Every Stage of Life - Brooklyn of A Little Too Jolley

Each stage of life looks different and brings unique challenges to every couple. My hope is that you will be inspired by the stories of the women in this series. I hope that their experiences will help you find more ways to make your marriage relationship a priority throughout every stage of your own life.

I'm so excited to feature Brooklyn as part of this series today! She was one of my first blogging friends and one of the first blogs that I read from beginning to current. I think I can honestly say that I've read every post that she's ever written. I've enjoyed watching her and Colten's journey, especially as they've added fostering to their list of things that they are doing together as a couple!

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What does it mean to you to prioritize your marriage?

It's recognizing that when you put time and effort into your marriage, it becomes wonderful! It's understanding that the world is better when you care for your marriage and making decisions that put that relationship first.

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How have the different stages you’ve experienced in life affected how you prioritize your relationship with each other?

When we were first married, we were both in school full-time and my husband was also full-time work. Evenings became our sanctuary and we always enjoyed relaxing after homework was done. As time progressed we both worked full time and used the extra finances to take fun vacations, make memories and buy our first home.

 This year we became insta-parents to 3 kids in foster care which has added a whole new dimension to our lives. It takes a lot more planning and focus to get alone time and to plan date nights but it has also brought an amazing depth to our love. 

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What are some rituals/traditions (big or small) that you have with your spouse?

When we were first married, Thursday was ALWAYS date night. We knew that if someone asked if we could do something Thursday (church meetings, hanging with friends, family events, etc.) Recently we've switched that night to Wednesday. Protecting that night and treating it as sacred time has been the best thing we've done to strengthen our marriage. 

How have the obstacles and challenges that you’ve faced as a couple made you a stronger team?

We have struggled with divisions of family time since we got married. This challenge has helped us to recognize that WE are a family and has allowed us to recognize the best ways to strengthen our relationships with extended family as well. 

We went through a period of rough finances, where we had to survive off of our savings and down-size our life in many ways. Although that time was so hard on us and I cried almost every night, I look back with fondness on the lessons learned. We came to trust each other and be there for each other in ways we hadn't done before. Our love became the anchor that we relied on. 

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Tell me about something that you hope to be able to do together in the future?

We really hope to continue fostering children and eventually adopting and/or having our own biological children. The challenges of parenting are hard, but the rewards make it so worth it.

My husband wants to travel the country together on a fancy motorcycle or in an RV. He thinks that would be pretty romantic I guess! I would love to do that with him as well, because having new experiences with him is one of my absolute favorite things. 

Click here to read more interviews in the Wives to Watch in Every Stage of Life Series

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9 Ways to Prepare Your Marriage and Family for an Emergency

With the events going on around our country over the past month, I've been thinking a lot about preparedness and what we need to do to make sure that our family is ready for any situation we might find ourselves in in the future. There are so many things that we need to do to be better prepared. We've been working our way through this list slowly over the last couple of years, but I've felt an urgency to finish up preparing our family for any sort of disaster that we may encounter in the future, whether it's a natural disaster or a financial hardship.

P.S. Did you know that it's Emergency Preparedness Month?? Check out this post on My Mommy Style for a free emergency preparedness bundle.

I was listening to Jordan and Bubba from Fun Cheap or Free discuss emergency preparedness and food storage in their Q&A Tuesday video from last week and was really inspired. They shared a few tips that made the daunting task of finishing up the things that we have left a lot easier. Example: Rather than trying to put together 72-hour kits (which I've been working on for over a year now), I'm going to purchase a couple of kits that I found for a decent price. Then I will add a few unique-to-our-family items to a separate backpack and store everything in an easy to access location in case we need to grab things quickly and leave our home. Next I plan to work on one of these list items at a time, until we're as prepared as we can be for whatever life throws our way.

Life Insurance

This was a big one for us and something that we took care of for peace of mind. Nobody likes to think about their spouse dying, but having financial support in the event that they do, could hopefully make the situation a little less stressful and tragic. Joe and I both have term life insurance, and I feel better knowing that if something were to happen to either or both of us, our little family would be prepared to continue without financial hardship in addition to our heartache.

I love everything that Dave Ramsey has to say about life insurance (search his website for more information) and honestly never would have thought about getting life insurance, outside of what our employers provide, if it weren't for him. I've heard so many stories of young families losing a loved one lately, and see so many accounts set up to raise money for those left behind. It's such a sad thing to think about, but one of the biggest things that I think couples can do to prepare their family for an emergency is to have life insurance in place. We made sure to apply for life insurance as soon as we purchased a home and had children, but life insurance is something that I'd suggest even newlyweds pick up.

Tip: Even if you are a stay at home parent, you should have insurance in place. If your family were to lose you, they would need to hire someone or multiple people to do a few of the things that you do. Taking care of the children for one, is something that your spouse would not be able to do on a daily basis while continuing to work a full time job. I love this answer that Dave Ramsey gave one of his listeners when asked about this topic.

Related: Preparing for Your Family's Financial Future

Will/Trust

This is one of the things that is next on mine and Joe's to do list. Like life insurance, it isn't a happy thing to think about, but having it in place gives peace of mind. It will also ensure that the things that you wish for your family in the future are carried out in the event that you aren't there to make sure it's done yourself. Putting together a will or a trust has always seemed daunting to me, but my friend Amy from Freshly Married made it seem so simple in her post on the topic. Now I know it's something that we can tackle as a couple before the year is over. 

Related: 4 Reasons You Should Write a Will and How to Do It

Emergency Plan

Another thing on my to do list right now is to create an emergency plan for our family. Having a plan in place for different scenarios (fire, flood, earthquake, etc.) as well as being prepared for times when our children may get lost, etc. is important to me. There are so many situations that I want my little family to be prepared for, especially with all of the natural disasters we've seen hitting different parts of the country right now. I've also thought a lot about teaching our toddler what to do in the event that he gets lost; having him memorize our address and phone numbers. If I can put them to song, he'll remember them no matter what!

Tip: Check out this post for information on creating your own family emergency plan. 

Emergency Contacts

Now that we have children who we are leaving with babysitters and family more often, I've been thinking a lot more about our emergency contacts. We have an "in case of emergency" card on the side of each child's car seat and depending on whose car they are in, the card says to "please call my mom/dad/grandma" along with listing their doctor's information, birth date and any known allergies. This month's goal is to update those cards and also to create a laminated emergency info sheet for our fridge for quick access in case it is needed. Things that I plan to list on our fridge card are our address, mine and Joe's phone numbers, grandma's phone numbers, doctor information, our kids' birth dates and allergy information, mine and Joe's information and all of those emergency phone numbers you may need (ie poison control) at some point in your child's life. 

Not only does having all of your emergency information in a prominent location help babysitters and family members out when they have your kids, it can help you out as well. I haven't experienced a true emergency with one of my children yet, but I can imagine that if/when I do, I may not be able to think straight. Knowing that my own contact information as well as my children's names and information is listed on the fridge will help me relay the correct information to emergency personnel quickly. And if I am the one needing emergency assistance, I can have that information handy as well because my kids are too little to know my birth date or allergies or anything like that.

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Savings

The baby step that we are currently working on is Baby Step 3 (this is from Dave Ramsey's baby steps in case you were confused), build up a savings account with three to six months of living expenses. After we had Emmy, we had to rely on our emergency fund a lot because the bills associated with her birth and hospital stay afterward were more than double what we'd been planning on based on the medical bills associated with Bensen's birth and she arrived earlier than planned so we weren't fully prepared. Having a decent amount of savings in the bank, that we don't touch unless we absolutely need it, is comforting. If a financial disaster hits our family, we will know that we can survive and provide our family with the necessities until we can find a solution to whatever we are facing.

We technically have three "emergency savings" accounts. We have our account with $1000 for those emergencies that we aren't planning for and don't have money for (see Baby Step 1), a Health Savings Account that we contribute to so we can pay for the unexpected medical bills that are inevitable with a young family, and we have our big savings account, the one with the largest interest rate and the limited amount of withdrawals, that we are building for financial security.

Tip: We are using Every Dollar to track our budget right now. They have a feature that I just discovered this month that I really love! As we work toward different savings goals, particularly our 3 to 6 months of expenses, we can use a fund to track our progress. After we've been using Every Dollar for a while, I'll share more about it in a separate post.

Related: How We Paid For School Without Going Into Debt

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Food Storage

Having a rotating supply of food in your home can benefit your family in many situations including loss of income, or an event which leaves you stranded at home for long periods of time. We have stocked our freezers and our pantry with food that we use and rotate through our meal plan each month. If we were unable to get out to the store for any reason or if our budget was drastically cut, we could use our stockpile to feed our family.

When we were finishing our basement, we set aside a room that we plan to dedicate to food storage in addition to our large pantry and extra freezer. Our goal over the next couple of months is to get the shelving installed in that room so that I can start grabbing a few extra things every time I'm out grocery shopping and stock those shelves as well. We've all seen how quickly the grocery store shelves empty in the face of a disaster; having a food supply of your own means that you could bake bread (make sure you have a good recipe written down) and feed your family without having to make a last minute run to the store to get whatever is left.

Tip: If you want to put together your food storage but aren't quite sure where to start, search Pinterest for "food storage". You'll come up with LOADS of ideas for things that you can stock your freezer with, how to store and rotate through your canned goods and how to build your food storage without spending hundreds of dollars up front. Also follow Fun Cheap or Free where they will be giving lots of tips and information on creating your food storage as part of "Stocktober" this coming month.

File Backups

This is the one thing that I've been thinking about the most recently. First, my husband's uncle's basement was hit by a flash flood of muddy, ashy water due to a forest fire from earlier in the summer. Like most people's basements, his was the location of a lot of irreplaceable artifacts and memories. Then we saw everyone in Houston lose their homes, their possessions and all of those things that can't be replaced. Becky Higgins wrote a post earlier this month titled Memories + Natural Disasters, that I think everyone needs to read. Even before I read that post, I knew what I needed to do to save my precious pictures and documents from a flood, fire, or even just a computer crash.

In past years, I've scanned in those things that are most important to me, mostly pictures, and saved them all to a large hard drive. I keep telling myself that I need to organize that hard drive, duplicate it and get a safety deposit box at the bank for it. I'd keep a flash drive with the documents and media that hadn't been updated on the main hard drive yet saved in our fire safe as well. If we had to leave our home quickly, that hard drive of mine is the first thing that I'd want to grab because it has all of my journals, pictures and videos on it. If I lose it, I lose all of my documented memories. In the event of a disaster, I would have the comfort of knowing that all of my memories are backed up and safe somewhere else.

Tip: This is the hard drive that I own, but I'm considering upgrading to this one (affiliate links). The 1 TB hard drive holds my entire music library, all of my pictures, every video clip or video I've taken, all of my backup blog files, etc. It's been good to me, but with the number of pictures and videos that I currently take of my growing family, I feel like I may need more space soon.

Fire/Water Safe

I mentioned that I really want to get a safety deposit box at the bank to store an extra hard drive with all of our pictures, videos and important documents on. We also have a safe and secure place in our house to keep all of our really important documents as well as my first backup of all of those files that I don't want to lose. Boxes like this are a great place to store your social security cards, birth certificates, passports, marriage license, car titles, etc. 

Tip: This is similar to the fire safe that we own currently, but we'd really like to get one like this (affiliate links), maybe bigger.

Home Inventory

I took a Family Resource Management course as one of the prerequisites for my degree. One of the things that has stuck with me after all of these years is the home inventory that we started for an extra credit assignment. Having a home inventory helps process insurance claims faster and more accurately. This is helpful in the event of a break-in, flood or a fire. I've been meaning to update our inventory every since and haven't, so I'm adding it to our list of things to do. If we focus on one room at a time, it should only take us a little while to document the electronics and expensive pieces of furniture that we own, leaving us to update the list as we purchase new or get rid of old.

Tips: I downloaded the app linked to in this post so that we can quickly and easily inventory everything that we own. You might also want to create a "home video" that shows all of the details of your home for insurance purposes later on down the road.

Emergencies and disasters can hit your family in a variety of ways. Use these tips to make sure that you are prepared to face whatever life and nature bring your way.

When I think of everything that we have left to accomplish, I'm a little overwhelmed, but breaking it all down in this way makes it seem more doable. One task at a time, right? And there's no better time to start than now!! I want to challenge you to sit down together this week and make a list of all of the things that your family needs to do to be prepared then start getting things accomplished. You won't be able to do it all at once, but every task that you complete means that your family is that much more prepared than they were when you started. Don't let disaster of any kind get the best of you; be as prepared as possible so that hard times are less stressful and you can focus on what really matters, keeping your family safe and happy.

Pictures by Kayla Brooke Photography