Friday, November 27, 2020

Frugal Friday - Disney Edition

 Happy Frugal Friday!

Last week we had a 7 day adventure with Mickey Mouse and the Georgia Mountains!

We planned our Disney trip with a lot of help from our friends Joe and Michelle Dillon. We love supporting this fellow LEO Family and you can book with them for FREE here Vacation Planners. 

(For Southern Indiana/Louisville friends wanting to book with a local planner contact our friend Amanda Williams. Her services are free too!

We originally booked our trip at the beginning of March 2020. We have been planning and saving for this trip for several years, we had a few setbacks as we had a flood in our kitchen and then Annabeth had the opporunity to dance in Chicago so we pulled from this trip savings for that trip. By March we were finally ready to book and planned for 4 park days, 5 nights at the All Star Movies Resort. Within two weeks, the world shut down due to COVID-19. When Disney finally reopened, they decided not to reopen the All Star resorts right away so we were automatically upgraded to Pop Centrury Resort. Disney upgraded us for free which was a great deal since Pop Century runs higher price per night than All Star Movies. 

Our awesome vacation planners also credited our account when Disney ran a sale. We were credited about $250. Between the credit and the upgrade we came out about $400 ahead of where we would have been without the sale/room upgrade!

Other ways we saved on vacation - 

- We asked family and friends for giftcards for the kids' birthdays. They each came to Disney with at least $75 to spend on the souveniers of their choice. Thank you everyone! 

- We packed our own food so most days we ate at least two meals from our packed groceries. We did not have the meal plan so we were able to choose to just buy our favorite meals. 

- We have always made pressed pennies as the kids' souveniers on vacation so over the past year we've been saving all of our quarters and pennies. Fun Fact: Disney uses a credit/debit card machine at each Pressed Penny location. We used our cards there and used the loose change to pay the Florida Tolls and for small items in the stores. 

- Annabeth found an Anna-Safe sucker but none of the stickers would ring up so the store gave us the $4.95 sucker for FREE!

- Mark and I chose Buy One, Get One Free candy bars as our treat. The stores actually had a great deal of little candy souveniers buy one, get one free. 

- We chose most of our gifts/souveniers from the 70% dated 2020 items. I like having the year on ornaments and things anyway so this was a great deal! Bonus buy for being there at the end of the year! :) 

- On the way home, we stopped in Dahlonega, GA with an Air BnB in the mountains. This was much less than staying at a local hotel and much more fun to be in a cabin! We eve had our own deck overlooking the mountains.

- Our last stop was Amicalola Falls State Park. We paid the $5 parking fee and had a great fun day at the falls and hiking. 

- Mark hiked the Approach Trail into the Appalachian Trail - a lifelong dream. 

We had the most wonderful week away - the cleanest park on earth, low heat most days, low crowds, socially distant lines to wait in, and SO much magic and fun. Now we look forward to saving for the next vacation. 

Friday, November 13, 2020

Frugal Friday 370

 Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how wes saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money this week:

- Mark has been wanting a large tool chest for his workshop space. He has been saving for one from the hardware store but something else always comes up. Imagine his happiness when one he wanted was at a neighborhood garage sale for just $30! This saved us $100+ !

- This was actually a few weeks ago but we are SO thankful! A friend mentioned that she had purchased store brand allergy meds that didn't work for her. They are the ones that 3/4 of us take so she gave us about 2.5 months of meds! This is a HUGE savings for our family! Thank you Jeanette!

- Saturday Mark and Owen went to McCordsville for the day and worked on an Eagle Scout Project. They were gone from 7-5 and were able to finish nearly an entire, large, bridge job. Owen was SO proud to help the big boys and adults all day.

- Annabeth had to do school on Saturday, she had a full day of doctor visits on Friday. After school, we had a little date day and shopped at the Farmgirl Merchantile and at Mom and Cub Boutique. We found several Christmas gifts at Farmgirl and she found three clothing items at Mom & Cub (under $20 for all three!) 

- Sunday we went to church, something that I will never take for granted again after the churches were closed last spring. We are SO thankful to worship in person. After church, we had lunch at Mark's parents. They generously sent us home with leftovers which we enjoyed for four meals during the week. (And we're just finding out this morning that our church is now closed again through December 15 :( ) 

- Monday Mark was off work so we got many projects around the house done. One of them was deep cleaning and listing our last two toddler toys for sale - the toy grill and toy kitchen. We were able to sell both on Facebook within one hour. While I do feel a little sad about not having any little people to need those toys, the kids are very excited for their Big Kid Reading Corner! We moved the bookshelf from Owen's room to the new Reading Corner and used the funds from the sale of the toy kitchen to buy each of the kids a bean bag chair. 

- We spent a TON of time outside! We always spend at least one hour a day outside but in the winter it sometimes is hard to get past that hour. This week has been so gorgeous though - with a few days up to 80 degrees here. We eneded up spending 3+ hours a day outside several days this week including a great park meet up with homeschool friends.

- We had some produce that we aren't going to be able to use. I donated it to the Pink House Little Free Pantry. I love donating to that particular pantry because if fresh items aren't collected right away the pantry manager shares them at the Franklin Library FLP. 

We are looking forward to a big adventure in the week to come. We'll see you here in TWO weeks for a huge Frugal Friday!

Happy Savings to All! 

Friday, November 6, 2020

Frugal Friday 369

 Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money this week:

- Mark worked many hours of overtime and I worked my Usborne Books & More Business.

- Last Friday, a bakery donated a huge aount of food to Mark's department so all were able to bring things home. He brought home donut holes, cupcakes, dinner rolls, and bagels. We served some over the weekend as we had company and then froze the rest.

- Saturday afternoon my Mama and I window shopped in downtown Franklin. We enjoyed looking through two little shops and didn't spend any money. 

- Saturday evening we had all of our parents over for a chilli dinner and Trick Or Treat. The kids LOVED trick or treating in our neighborhood and it was so fun to watch them choose their two pieces of candy to eat at the end of the night. 

Happy Halloween from the Woody, Annie, Daddy, and Mama

- Sunday evening Mark and I had a car date. We had to run to the grocery for one item but since my parents had the kids, we stopped for a milkshake and took a drive. It was a wonderful $10 recharge!

- Cassidy texted one night to let me know that Ibotta was giving away FREE Thanksgiving dinners from Walmart. I quickly hopped on and placed an order. There was a $35 minimum so I made sure to check out additional items that had $4.50 in rebates. Because it was the middle of the week and I redeemed so many rewards Ibotta gave me an additional $5. I referred a friend and earned an additional $10. In short, THEY PAID ME OVER $3 for $36 worth of items! Join Ibotta to save money too! 

Our FREE Thanksgiving themed meal.
I also purchased yogurt and laundry detergent and thanks
to Ibotta is was ALL FREE!

- We borrowed the materials we needed for school from the library. I love our amazing local libraries and we enjoy borrowing books, CDs, DVDs, etc for both school and pleasure from the library every week!

We had a nice, low key week. We are looking forward to a nice, long weekend!

Happy Savings to All! 

Friday, October 30, 2020

Frugal Friday 368

 Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money this week:

- Last Friday my sister came to town. She drove us to the park, on an errand, and to the library to pick up books. We were there just in time to see our library friends practice for the October Puppet Show. The shows are being done via Zoom but they let us in the rehersal. It was so cute and funny and my puppet obsessed kids LOVED seeing behind the scenes! Thank you to Tiffany, Kalen, Heather, Sarah, and Andrea. We love our library people!

- Saturday morning Mark took Annabeth to dance and my sister and I enjoyed brunch from Main & Madison Market Cafe. This was the first time I'd eaten there since last winter and it was, as always, great. Their chocolate chip cookies are amazing and it was so fun to have a car picnic with my sister.

- I began feeling poorly at the end of last week and the doctor confirmed I had an infection following surgery. I was able to try oral antibiotics and was able to stay home. I was thankful not to have to be admitted for IV meds at the hospital. The appointment and meds were just $30 OOP much more affordable than a hospital stay. I saw the doctor yesterday and the meds have not worked fully. I will go again Monday and hope to be feeling much better by then. 

- Sunday I stayed home to rest while Mark and the kids enjoyed lunch with his family. They were kind enough to send home pizza for me - thank you! We did end up missing a birthday party that evening though, I was not up to getting out and about.

- Monday our friend Katelyn brought us treats from the birthday party we missed. She made all kinds of homemade goodies and was kind enough to bring us lunch too! The kids enjoyed the Happy Meals and since I had already had my protein shake we took my meal to Mark which he really appreciated. 

- Tuesday evening we celebrated Halloween with Owen's Cub Scout Pack. They also received their first four belt loops that they have earned this year.

- Wednesday night Annabeth had the fun of wearing a Halloween costume to dance class. She said they did a Trunk or Treat in between classes and she brought home a gigantic bag of candy!

- Yesterday our friends stopped by on their way to Indy. Mark brought home a police car and Owen and the boys were able to work on a Cub Scout requirement by learning more about police work. The Eblings surprised Mark with a sweet care package (which ended up being his dinner as he worked a 15 hour day) We surprised their family with Enjoy Life Halloween candy bags. It was great to see you Eblings!

Mr. O was VERY happy to sit in a police car.
When asked who his hero is he said "Dad." 

- We have many people in our lives who are allergic to some, or all, of the Top 8 Allergens. We LOVE Enjoy Life Foods as they are made in a completely Top 8 free facility making them safe for all! I found that Kroger Shipped had them MUCH more affordable than at any local store. I was also able to get them shipped free. Just a heads up for other allergy friends. :) 

We had a busy week and are looking forward to enjoying Halloween!

Happy Halloween and Happy Savings to All! 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Laundry Room Makeover and Why I LOVE Doing Laundry

We began renovating our house in March 2013 and moved in July 2013. During that time we painted and redid every room except the laundry room. 

We bought the house from our friend Renee who built/decorated in 1998.
This laundry room felt like 1998.
Dark, dark red and baskets, birds, and birdhouse galore!
It was good enough though since no one saw it but me

Over the years, I thought about wanting to redo it but just never felt the right idea. 

Then about two years ago, while reading a decorating magazine at Momaw's, I saw the most beautiful pink and gold bathroom. I KNEW that was what I wanted! I have never been able to decorate my own space. Growing up I had the wallpaper my parents chose, then a dorm, than an apartment that Leah designed, and then spaces shared with Mark who clearly doesn't want pink or gold. I decided it would be my laundry room decor. 

One day, while at Lowe's we found the PERFECT pink paint in the mistint section and paid just $9 for enough paint to paint the whole room! I found some decor items from around the house, paid $7 for a gold switch plate (probably the most ridiculous splurge of the whole thing), and had my friend Katelyn at No Strings Attached Signs created the perfect sign for my shelf. 

Laundry room perfection!
Mark had the idea for the laundry cart to hold all the cleaners and things.
He also added that giant rod so I can dry all things in the laundry room
instead of in the showers.

What it really looks like not styled for a picture.

The perfect gold switch plate.

When I was going through Pinterest looking for laundry ideas over the years, one thing I pinned over and over were signs with a certain saying: "I still remember the days when I prayed for what I have now"

In the years of waiting for children, in my darkest infertility moments, I would BEG God for children. These tearful prayers often came while doing laundry. I promised Him that I would love to clean little hands and faces, that I would read all the books, that I would devote myself to them, and that I would LOVE the laundry load of a big family. 

Even now, even after being a Mama for 9+ years, I LOVE the laundry. I pray for my family as I do our laundry. I thank the Lord that we can buy clothes that fit for all the seasons, I am thankful to wash muddy baseball pants and piles of tutus because my children are doing the things they love, and I am thankful to wash food stained clothes because it means we had enough to eat that day. In my laundry room I choose to thank and praise the Lord for all of my many blessings and for the gift of serving my family. 

Friday, October 23, 2020


 Almost two years ago, I posted this Thanksgiving Post about my favorite blessing that year - benign test results from a recent surgery. For nearly 18 months I was relatively pain and symptom free and I really believed that I had found a good solution for my endometrosis.

Then last spring, it was back. That same pain. That same discomfort. That same old same. It started as COVID started so I told myself that it was stress, that it would go away. It didn't.

This time, as the months went on, I began having complications that I had never had before. Finally, mid July I called my OBGYN and after hearing my symptoms they gave me the first available appointment just a few days later.

I started with an ultrasound during which the ultrasound tech went from chatty to quiet. She started measuring. I told her, "I was diagnosed with endometriosis at 20. I can see that it's all back." Then I saw a mass. I knew that it was new. My appointment an hour later confirmed that. All of the endometriosis I had cleared out in 2018 was back and worse than before. They had also found a tumor. 

My doctor assured me the tumor was relatively small and that there was one more pill he wanted me to try before having surgery - again. We discussed another laparoscopic cleanout and the potential benefits of doing a uterine ablation. He asked me to give it three cycles - 9 weeks. After the first pill pack, I was in more pain than ever. I tried to wait the full nine weeks but only made it six. The new scan showed that the tumor had grown.

My doctor was so quiet after the new scan. He finally said, "Are you okay with discussing a hysterectomy?" Ultimately, it was the right decision for me and my situation. After 13 years of endometriosis, the polyps/cancer scare in 2018, the damage done to my uterus during my last surgery, and this new tumor - I understood that it was done. My body was done. 

October 2, 2020 I had a total hysterectomy (removal of uterus, Fallopian tubes, and cervix). I stayed overnight in hospital and, with my doctor's permission, signed myself out about 18 hours after surgery to recover at home. The recovery has been long and hard. I am only 3 weeks in and it's been the most difficult/slowest recovery I have ever had. I stayed horizontal for the first five days, slowly moved to sitting, and am now doing some light movement and housework. The full recovery is 6-8 weeks. 

It has been physically painful and also emotional. We have known since Owen was born that we are complete. I've never had that feeling that someone else was coming but it's still so final, so permanent. I will never carry another baby and while I feel joy in the restoration of my health there is some sorrow in the loss of what might have been. The finality of this surgery has involved some processing on my end.

October 13, 2020 I received the news that everything the surgeon removed was once again BENIGN! Praise the Lord. 

I have debated sharing as this is deeply personal. It has impacted so much of my life, and very little of the lives of family/friends/readers, but I am different now. I wasn't sure if I would just go on like this huge thing never happened or if I would share. When the pain came back last spring, I never imagined this is where we would be in the fall. I share in the hope that someone else experiencing pain or discomfort will have the courage to mention it to their doctor and to seek help. Two years ago, I thought I just had some extra cramps so when they said the word cancer I was shocked. After surgery I was so relieved that I had taken the steps necessary to have surgery and get reults. 

I thank and praise the Lord for seeing me through this surgery, this recovery, and for giving me peace with this next phase of life. I am forever thankful for the friends and family who have poured love over us with prayers, cards, pumpkin bread, dinners, games for the kids, etc. I am so thankful for Mark who has been so patient and kind over the years as I have had days where I was in pain or needed extra rest, who completely agreed with and supported this decision which affects not only my ability to have more children but also his, and who has loved me so beautifully and so well this month (and always) 

Frugal Friday 367

 Happy Frugal Friday! 

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/made extra money this week:

- Last Friday our best friends came for the day. Rose brought us lunch and delicious homemade cookies to celebrate Annabeth's birthday. The kids played and the mams talked for six hours which passed like six minutes.

- After a full day of company, we decided to do a low key dinner. We ordered pizza from a local pizza place and only had to cover the tip thanks to a generous giftcard from the Sichting Family. Thank you all.

- Mark worked a ton of overtime this week. His summer was a bit calmer than usual so the fall has been more wild than usual. I have been working 10-20 hours a week on my Usborne Books & More business. 

- Saturday morning Mark and Owen headed to Southeastway Park for a Wood Badge Ceremony. They enjoyed a few hours at the park and Owen reported the ceremony had very good cupcakes. Mark's mom picked up Annabeth from dance and bought lunch for Annabeth and myself. Thank you Kristi.

- Sunday we had Mark's family over for family lunch. Mark made chilli, cornbread, and homemade brownies. After everyone headed home the kids played outside in the leaves all afternoon. I love watching them have fun together!

- My dad was here Monday-Thursday to help with the kids. Each of the kids got a full date afternoon with Grandpa after the finished school. They traded books at free little libraries, shopped the used bookstore, visited the train ice cream station three times, and more. I am thankful for the memories they made and that in turn I got an afternoon alone with each of the kids to play games, color, and chat.

My boys doing afternoon school. 

- I had added an adorable pumpkin shirt to my Pinterest board. Instead of spending a huge amount on Etsy or an online boutique, I shopped with my friend Allison Wells at her online shop Splendid Sloth Crafts. I would much rather spend money with friends! Thank you Allison for customizing my order and shipping it affordable in just one week. 

- Wednesday night we treated my dad to dinner at Greek's. Again, thank you to the Sichting Family for the generous giftcard and the gift of dinner without cooking!

- We have hard water here in Central Indiana so our water heater and appliances really take a beating. Last night, Mark (with help from Owen) drained the water heater, cleaned it out, and replaced the insides. We do this about every 2-3 years to prolong the life of our water heater.

- Last night, I met with my committee for Annabeth's dance school. I really enjoyed catching up with my friend Angie (we are the committee) and the kids LOVED playing out back until it was dark. 

As of today, I am three weeks out from surgery. I am finally up and about, doing light housework, and getting outside some. Thank you to all of the amazing family and friends who have blessed us in the last few weeks - the prayers, cards, meals, etc have been an incredible blessing! THANK YOU!

We are looking for a weekend visit from another family member.

Happy Savings to All!