Friday, August 18, 2017

Frugal Friday 206

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Saturday morning we visited the Downtown Franklin Farmer's Market for some fresh green beans and peaches. We also stopped by our new Pet Smart store for fish filters and the kids loved watching all of the fish.

- I bought a $10 Starbucks giftcard on Groupon for only $5 OOP. I also went through eBates for 3% cashback.

- Saturday afternoon Mark and I each took turns taking Annabeth out one-on-one. Mark took her to lunch at 'Sun and Moon Mexico' aka the Mexican restaurant closest to our house. She was so excited to have Daddy all to herself. Owen and I enjoyed a quiet lunch at home together. Then in the afternoon, we switched, I took Annabeth grocery shopping and out for Lickity Split snowcones and Mark and Owen played at home. Mark works so much so when we have the chance we really try to split the kids up so we each can have some one-on-one time with them.

So happy to be out with Mama!
She had a Wedding Cake snowball and I had a Birthday Cake one.
We filled our punch-card so our next one will be free!

- Sunday after church we drove up to Trinity and Mark worked and the kids and I attended a fundraiser for one of Mark's scouts. This young man put on a BBQ rib dinner to raise money for his Eagle Project and we are happy to report it is now fully funded and he is ready to move forward! God is good!

- My sister sent the kids and me back-to-school gifts! She sent Annabeth a book signed by the author about interesting creatures, a firetruck book to Owen, and a beautiful "Guide and Inspire" necklace to me. Thank you Lu for making our 5th back-to-school so exciting!

Shop Simply Joyish on Etsy for your own custom necklace! 

- We received a free sample of mouthwash to use and review.

- I received a free magazine subscription and used it to renew the Vogue Magazine subscription that we give my sister.

- We bought laundry soap for the second time this year. We only use Purex and we only buy it when I can get a coupon for each bottle + buy 2, get 1 free at Kroger. We have spent a total of $12 on laundry detergent ALL year!

- I also ordered our dishwasher pods for only the second time this year. I order ours from and each box lasts about 6 months. 

We had a great week, although it felt very lllooonnnggg, because I am SO looking forward to this weekend and for the solar eclipse next week! 

Happy Savings to All! 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Frugal Friday 205

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Saturday we took a huge box of paper to a community recycling/shred day. I was glad to get it out of the schoolroom and to have some records securely shredded for free.

- I finished my summer babysitting job this week. This job allowed us to add quite a bit of money to Owen's savings account and paid the deposit for Annabeth's dance for next year. The Black Family gifted us a beautiful family watercolor made by my friend Olivia - thank you to all of you!

- I hosted an Usborne Book Mystery Hostess Party. My Mystery Hostess earned $20 in free books and $25 in 1/2 price books!

- Saturday evening we hosted a pitch-in dinner. We had a great time with some of our closest friends. We at leftovers for two lunches and Monday night dinner.

- Annabeth and I have been doing facials at home. She is so girly and loves things like this! I love spending an extra 5 minutes with just my girl!

Facial Ladies. 

- I placed an order with Click my referral link for $15 off your first order! I have ordered from them a few times through Zulily but this was my first time actually ordering from their site. I signed up as a new customer and got 15% off my order + free shipping! I also earned 2% cashback through Ebates. We also got three freebies with our order - a package of pasta, a granola snack, and (much to Annabeth's delight) Annie's gummies.

- We spent most of the week outside. It has been beautiful, especially for August, so we have taken advantage! We have also been enjoying the park and pool being pretty empty since our local schools went back to class on Wednesday.

- Last night the kids and I enjoyed $2/person admission to the city pool. We had a great time swimming!

We have had such a good week! Everyone in my house is pretty happy when we can just live outdoors!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

How Seeing My Daughter's Allergist Changed MY Life!

Last month I posted about being a Food Allergy Mama.
What I wasn't quite ready to write about was how seeing our daughter's allergist changed MY life.

As a young child, Annabeth has always reacted (with hives) to peanuts and over time her reactions to dogs/cats have worsened (to more severe hives and difficulty breathing). But this summers reactions that sent us to the Emergency Room two times totally changed the way that I viewed her food allergies. They went from something we worked to avoid to something I was losing sleep over.

We had a 7 week wait to see an allergist and so in the meantime we avoided what we thought the trigger foods were and asked family and friends to do the same. Everyone else was so calm, "Okay. We'll be nut free when we see you." And that was that.

When I talked to Mark and my family everyone said, "Okay. We'll check the labels again" or "It's okay, we'll figure it out." But I was FREAKING OUT! I think maybe my parents and Mark could sense that and thought I needed them to be calm for me. But I didn't!

Both of Annaebth's reactions happened when I was alone with the kids. I was the one ripping her clothes off, washing her skin, giving medicine, trying to get shoes on everyone and to herd them out the door, watching her choke-vomit-wheeze, and I was the one who had to make the drive to the hospital - keeping her talking to me so I knew she was okay. It was me, alone. And it was terrifying.

We saw the allergist and he was the first person who said the things I needed to hear:
- This is serious.
- This is life changing.
- You will have to change how you grocery shop, go in public, visit other people's houses.
- He gave me a new protocol for how we should eat out or visit places like the Children's Museum
- Avoidance and also carrying two epi-pens are her two best chances at surviving another exposure to her worst allergens
We spent hours in his office as he walked me through all of the things we needed to change. He validated all of the precautions I had been taking and also all of my fears. He was the first person who really listened as I talked. He was the first one to completely agree with all of the changes we had made. He was the first person who seemed to understand how I felt and for that I am so grateful.

The first grocery trip after seeing the allergist, took over an hour and ended with me sobbing in my car. Our allergist said it is now necessary to watch for "may contain..." items in addition to items that do contain the allergens. It completed changed the way I grocery shopped - especially because Owen is gluten free and many gluten free items are made with almond flour which we are not to have in the house anymore. It took twenty minutes just to find a pancake mix that everyone could have.

I have stayed home a lot this summer out of fear. Because we still are not sure of what caused the reaction at the Children's Museum (a reaction that within 20 minutes had her covered in hives and struggling to breathe) every time we go somewhere I worry. I wash things, I wash her hands, we don't eat in public and yet the fear is there. Is it going to happen today? What will cause it?
If you don't have, or your child doesn't have, life threatening allergies you may think this is crazy.
It's not - it's life saving.

I share this because I need the people in my life to know how I feel. I need people to understand that the responsibility I have for her safety is huge and it is mostly mine. I am the one who reads the labels, who gives the medicine, who has to change her clothes/shower her/do her breathing treatment just so we can visit someone who has a pet. It's exhausting and it's not going to change. This is her life, her reality and having the allergist say to me: "You're job just got really hard" was the best, most validating thing that anyone could have said to me. It changed my life to have someone take me seriously.

If you are interested in more information I think this page is quite thorough and helpful.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Frugal Friday 204

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I closed out my first Cards for a Cause fundraiser with Usborne. This fundraiser raised $425 for the ladies that did it! Please let me know if you or your organization would be interested as I would love to help you earn money for your group as well!

- I continued my summer babysitting job and had one Usborne party.

- Mark worked one night at his part time job. He also worked National Night Out - an event focused on putting police officers and the public together in a peaceful, positive setting. This event felt very important this year as just last week an officer was killed in a neighboring community.

- I finished a sewing project last week and added it to our wall. I love how it turned out!

 This is the first sewing project I have completed in years!
We do in fact love where we live!
I paired it with this great coordinates Franklin, IN sign 
by Charming Willows and purchased at Vintage Whimsy  

- We did a bit of back-to-school shopping for Annabeth. As we have worked on cleaning out her closet for the fall consignment sale, I quickly realized that very little of what she wore last winter will fit again. We hit a sale at Kohl's + 20% off coupon and got her three long sleeve shirts, two short sleeve shirts, and one pair of leggings. Since she has an October birthday, she usually gets fall/winter items then as well but I wanted her to have the fun of back-to-school shopping too!

- Saturday evening we worked on cleaning out and organizing the garage. We found one item to sell and I got it photographed and listed on Facebook garage sale pages.

- Sunday evening we had a cookout with Mark's parents. We took chips and dips, corn on the cob, and squash casserole. They did the meats, fruits, and dessert. They were very kind and sent home tons of leftovers which we enjoyed for several meals. Thank you all!

- Monday evening Mark went and help a friend put up hay. He brought home 4 ears of corn, 3 onions, and 1 green bell pepper as thanks for his work.

- The kids and I participated in our library's summer reading program and I won the Food and Fun prize! I won a $10 McDonald's card, $10 Speedway Gas Card, and a $10 Starbucks card! Woohoo! Thank you JCPL! 

- Wednesday night the kids and I enjoyed a swim at the Franklin Pool. After 5 pm it is just $2/person to swim.

We had a great week and are fully back into our school schedule. It feels so good to be back into a good routine again!

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Frugal Friday 203

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I continued my summer babysitting job and had one Usborne Party.

- Mark worked one shift at his part-time job.

- Last Saturday, Annabeth and I worked at our church's garage sale. Annabeth loved playing "store" while helping. She can make anything fun! :)

- We did our grocery shopping in two parts on Saturday. We shopped the Downtown Franklin Farmer's Market for fruits and veggies ($15) and Meijer for the rest ($70). Meijer had some AWESOME mPerks and coupons over the weekend. We saved $4 with paper coupons, $4 mPerks, and another $8 in special mPerks! This is how our grocery bill came out so small this week! Thanks Meijer!

- Saturday evening we headed out to the Campbell's house. We enjoyed a great (HOT!) hike in the woods and dinner with them. Thank you all!

- I took the time to clean out my closet and rid my wardrobe of 24 items!

- We cleaned out Annabeth's hanging clothes this week. She has outgrown ten winter outfits - five went straight to the sale tote and five I photographed and put on Facebook to try to sell.

- Wednesday and Thursday nights Annabeth had a 4 hour dance intensive. Wednesday night Mark, Owen, and I enjoyed Penn Station for dinner. I used a coupon to get one sandwich free and we were all SO happy. It is my favorite sandwich place and we cannot eat there because they cook their fries in peanut oil so we were pumped to have a Mama/Daddy/Owen date while Annabeth was at dance.

- I received our PinchMe box for the month. This month's samples: an all natural shampoo/conditioner, ranch dressing, granola bar bites, all natural bug spray, and zzquil.

- We received two kid snacks and one face mask freebies with our Zulily box this week.

- Our BIG news this week is that we bought a NEW (to us) vehicle! We are so excited to have two family vehicles again, which is becoming more and more necessary as the kids get older and need to be different places at different times.
We had two vehicles until June 2012 when we sold Mark's car because he had switched jobs and was given a take-home-vehicle from work. In October 2015, Mark bought a project truck that has been very fun for him to work on but is not new enough/safe enough to put carseats in so it is the wrong project for this season of life. A co-worker and his family bought a new car and gave us a great deal on their old one. We were able to, Dave Ramsey style, pay cash for our new vehicle. We now have the task of selling the truck.

The kids love "their" new truck! 
We are so thankful that God provided this vehicle to our family. We have been talking about, praying about, and saving for a new family vehicle and this one checked all of the boxes. God is so good!

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Frugal Friday 202

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I had two more Usborne Book parties and continued my summer babysitting job.

- Mark worked at the fair so he will have overtime on his next check.

- My dad was in town last weekend to take a woodworking course near us. We were happy to have him here for dinner and dessert Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. By planning ahead we didn't have any eat out costs - which is rare for when we have company! We also had tons of leftovers from the weekend to feed us through the early part of the week.

- Saturday morning the kids and I enjoyed the Downtown Franklin Farmer's Market. We bought some great produce and also enjoyed some snow cones from Lickity Split. We, of course, also bought bows from Emma's Bows for a Cure.

- Annabeth's friend brought over 10 Bob reading books for us! A is headed into 2nd grade and a great reader so she is way beyond these. We are so thankful that she decided to share!! I love having Annabeth read these easy books to help build her confidence.

- A friend has decided not to do the fall sale but had some items that she wanted to get rid of. She brought them over for us to enjoy or to sell in the sale with our own stuff. Annabeth is THRILLED to have a Princess scooter!! Thank you Andrea!

- I received some freebies with my Clinique order that I didn't want. I mailed them to a friend with two little sheriff themed outfits for her new baby boy. We were happy to pass them along to a fellow sheriff family.

- Monday afternoon we took two books to the Little Free Library and traded two of our old books for two new-to-us books. We also enjoyed the Franklin Story Walk.

- Owen finished his summer reading hours and earned a free book. We chose a book of first words for him.

- A friend gave Mark a free (3 lb!) zucchini from his garden. It gave us two meals worth of veggies!

- Last summer we received notification that we were eligible to be part of a class action lawsuit against our old mortgage company. I filled out all of the paperwork and promptly forgot about it. This week received our settlement check! ($17.04) We added it to Owen's savings account.

- Yesterday morning we did a huge toy clean-out in the living room and then after dinner we took two hours and cleaned out Annabeth's room. The kids picked a huge box of toys to donate and 8 nicer toys that I will try to sell at the Fall Consignment Sale.

- We started school this week - it was SUPER hot so this was a great week to start since we needed to be inside for the hot parts of the day. Annabeth started 1st grade and Owen began 2-year-old-pre-school.

 Owen's 1st Day of Pre-School
Hit hot-wheels car had to come too
Annabeth's 1st Day of 1st Grade
This rainbow dress has been her absolute favorite this summer. 

We hope everyone is enjoying these last few weeks of school and are also looking forward to heading back to school soon!

Happy Savings to All! 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Food Allergy Mama

Over a bagel with peanut butter spread, I became a Food Allergy Mama in 2013.

For 3.5 years, we avoided any kind of significant reaction. This summer one bite of one granola bar changed that.

In late May and early June, Annabeth went to the Emergency Room twice due to allergic reactions to new foods. It was terrifying as a parent to make that drive to the ER and it was even scarier for our little girl.

This past week, we finally (we waited 7 weeks for this appointment) saw an allergist and went from just avoiding peanuts to results that show that she has life-threatening allergies to peanuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, coconuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts.

Over the years, I have mastered the no-peanuts. I can rattle off a safe or not-safe list to just about anyone who asks. We know what restaurants to avoid. I can shop the grocery without even looking at the boxes anymore.

But the tree nut thing means starting all over. Over the years, avoiding peanuts, means we've generally avoided all nuts just because they are so often processed together. We only buy specialty cookies and pre-made snacks that are made in nut-free factories. But now we have to really look, really read. We have to recheck all of the restaurant websites. We have to educate ourselves about the alternative names for these nuts and where they might be found.

Being a Food Allergy Mama is exhausting. It's mentally taxing.

I feel like I am always on high alert:
Did you call the restaurant before we came?
Did you ask the waitress what those french fries were cooked in?
Did you make that birthday cake at home? Do you have a nut free kitchen?
Is that peanut butter on your kids shirt?!
No, not even a "little bit" is okay (My Momaw is always saying "I just put a little, tiny bit of peanut butter in it so Annabeth can still have it)

It's hard because she has to miss out:
That cake is from Kroger, it's not safe.
Oh, that princess event at Chic-Fil-A looks great but they cook in peanut oil.
The birthday party is at an ice cream bar? Is it nut free? No? Don't even show her the invite.
Everyone else is eating a granola bar and she can't.

I worry that people will think I am crazy for quizzing them before I allow Annabeth to eat at their house or their child's birthday party. I worry that people are insulted when I say that full list (but for the record, I never knew coconuts were a nut! I thought they were a fruit so I just want everyone to be clear on that too)

Most of all, it's scary. It's really, really scary.
Her second ER trip was following a morning at the Children's Museum. We went, we played, we had the same lunch we always have, and on the drive home her entire body swelled, covered with hives, and she asked to go to the hospital while gasping for breath. It was just a normal morning out, no new foods, no bakery, no nuts, and there we were in the ER.
I have been so afraid the rest of this summer. We went to summer camp and I took every single meal. We have played with friends and I have taken her lunch every time. I was an anxious mess trying to eat breakfast at a hotel worried about who had touched what before she did.
I don't want to be afraid or anxious and I certainly don't want to scare her but I also want to always be ready.

On the flip side, being a Food Allergy Mama has allowed me to help those who have come after us. I don't know how many people have messaged me with questions. I am by no means an expert but I always try to offer words of encouragement and support.

I am so incredibly thankful for everyone who has checked in this summer. Thank you for everyone who made Annabeth cards or took the time to call her to check in after she was in the hospital. Thank you to every person who says, "What kind of snack can I bring so Annabeth can enjoy it too?" and to every friend who makes a special dessert at their child's birthday party just for her. Thank you to every friend who sends me food labels before letting their child bring a snack into my home. Thank you to everyone who understands and respects that our home is nut free. All of those "little things" make this big task of keeping her safe so much easier!

If you are a Food Allergy sufferer or mama, I completely recommend Central Indiana Allergy. I am so thankful for their care and concern and for the treatment plan that they have developed to help Annabeth be as normal as possible while living with something completely abnormal.

If you are interested in more information I think this page is quite thorough and helpful.