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.
foodallergy.com

Friday, July 14, 2017

Frugal Friday 201

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- A friend posted on Facebook that she was needing to borrow a high chair for weekend company. We happily lent her one of ours and when she returned it she sweetly brought our kids some bubbles and temporary tattoos.

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

- Mark spent the week at summer camp with his boy scout troop. He is so happy to invest in the lives of young men in the same way leaders invested in him during his scout years. We miss him when he's camping with them throughout the year but we believe he is doing such important work.

- Last week and this week, I allowed Annabeth to borrow a launchpad from the library. We have not used these before but I decided to try something new. She played on each of them for about 20 minutes before completely losing interest. I was quite happy that she doesn't need to be entertained that way but hopefully she enjoyed something different too.

- We baked our favorite chocolate chip cookies on Monday as a thank you for our friends who babysat Owen for us this week.

Thank you again to the O'Neals for keeping this guy for us! 
He makes this cute face and says, "Hi mama!" in a little squeal voice and I can't say "no"
to anything he asks for! 

- We took a package of diapers that we no longer need to a friend's little boy.

- I organized some hand-me-downs for a friend who has a little boy and a baby girl on the way. I look forward to visiting with them soon and passing everything along.

Frugal Fail (sort of)
- Last Saturday Annabeth competed at the Applause Talent Nationals. She had to be there and ready at 7:30 am more than an hour from home. We debated back and forth and ultimately got a hotel room for Friday night into Saturday morning. We had not really planned on this expense and we waited until just a few weeks out to book the hotel so it was a bit expensive. It was not financially frugal at all BUT it saved my sanity! I felt so much calmer and I think Annabeth did so much better being able to wake up later and to get ready in a calm fashion with a 10 minute drive vs. a 60+ minute drive.

We had a great week and the highlight was cheering on Annabeth and Style Dance Academy at Applause Nationals! Annabeth and the "Disco Divas" earned a Double Platinum and 2nd place!!

 Congrats on 2nd Place at Nationals!!!!! 


Happy Savings to All!


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Our Homeschool Day Schedule

This is our last week of summer as we are "going back" to school next Tuesday!

We ended school about 8 weeks ago and while we have done plenty of summer learning, it's time to get back into the swing of things. This summer, I have met some new, and some potential, homeschool families and one of the number one questions I get asked is: What does a homeschool day look like?

Here is the schedule we have used the past two years (PreK and Kindergarten for Annabeth) and I plan to use this same schedule again this year:

6:30-6:45 Wake-Up
7-7:45 Breakfast, Morning show for the kids, E-mail check for me
7:45-9 My shower, Annabeth's shower, Start laundry, Chores
9-10:45 Appointments or Errands or if we are home for the day free play.
10:45 Lunch
11:15-12:15 Quiet time for Annabeth/Lessons for Owen (he will begin 2 year old preschool next week)
12:30 Owen goes down for nap
12:30-?? Annabeth's School (This varies day to day depending on how long it takes her to get through her lessons. We do art, music, science in the mornings with Owen so the afternoons are mostly for handwriting, math, and reading/phonics)
4-4:45 Free play for kids/chores for me/make dinner
4:45-5:30 Dinner
After dinner we clean up, play outside, the kids spend time with Mark if he is home, or we head to the studio for dance and gymnastics.
7:30-10 Bedtime. Somewhere in there the kids go to bed and around 10 they are both finally asleep.





Friday, July 7, 2017

Frugal Friday 200

Happy 200th Frugal Friday!!

First and foremost, thank you, ALL OF YOU, for reading this series for 200 weeks!
Want to see where we began? Frugal Friday #1
There are weeks when we get really busy or we aren't super frugal or I feel like I am posting the same things over and over again and I wonder "Is this even worth it?" Always within a day or two I hear from someone, out of the blue, who shares that they read these posts.  An aunt or uncle, an acquaintance from college, a high school classmate, a local friend just comments with a "I love reading your posts" or "I enjoyed this post..." and I know that for whatever reason(s) the Lord has me doing this right now.

So, for the 200th time...

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

- Mark worked a Friday night shift at his part time job.

- I continued my summer babysitting job and had another Usborne party. I have been with Usborne 2 weeks and this week I was able to pay an entire medical bill from my commission check! That is huge friends!

- Saturday morning we drove to Camp Cedarbrook, the newest part of Lakeview Ministries, for its dedication. We enjoyed the dedication church service, a delicious meal, exploring the area, and Annabeth loved going down the blow-up water slide. We were so impressed with all of the hard work that has been put into the facility and we cannot wait to see how the Lord uses it for His glory!

- Sunday after church we had Mark's parents and his brother, Luke, over for a taco bar and then Sunday Sundaes. We spent the afternoon visiting. Kristi brought Annabeth four new sundresses and brought both of the kids bubbles! They were very excited - thank you!

- On Monday, Mark and Annabeth went to the movies and lunch together. We love being frugal in other areas so we can give our children special experiences when the opportunity comes around. Annabeth has talked about little else this week. She loves spending special, one-on-one time with her Daddy.

- Tuesday we celebrated the 4th by visiting with our neighbors on their porch, playing at the park, an (indoor) picnic lunch, and Mark and Annabeth walked in a parade. We are so thankful for our freedom!

Owen and Annabeth
4th of July, 2017

I cannot help buying 4th of July outfits each year -
they always look so sweet and just scream SUMMER!
Left 2017, Top Right 2016, and Bottom Right 2015

- We continued to meal plan and grocery shop carefully. We actually ended up with more leftovers than I had left room for so we are ending the week with two extra meals for next week's menu!

- Annabeth finished the library's summer reading program. She earned a book and chose a Piggie and Gerald book to add to her collection.

- I enjoyed a free Starbucks thanks to a Starbucks Reward in my e-mail.

- As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I was able to get Annabeth's "big" birthday gift on sale. I have found a few other little things, all on sale as well, and just needed to find something from Owen. Yesterday we were at Meijer and I saw Annabeth's #1 birthday wish toy on sale + they had a one day Christmas in July promo going so it was an extra 50% off the sale price! I went out after dinner and was able to get her two of the toys she really wants for $10 (normal retail would have been nearly $40!). She has been asking Owen for a few months now to please get this toy for her and I am excited to have him be the birthday hero this year!

We had a great week and are looking forward to Applause Nationals this weekend!
Dance your hearts out Disco Divas and Style Dance Academy! :)

Happy Savings to All!






Friday, June 30, 2017

Frugal Friday 199

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Saturday morning, Mark and Owen walked in the Greenwood Freedom Fest Parade for our pick for Sheriff, Kirby Cochran.

- Saturday afternoon, we all headed over to the fairgrounds for Annabeth to dance at the Relay for Life. It was heartbreaking to see so many "In Memory..." shirts for young children. It was also encouraging to see so many children in "Survivor" shirts. Our county has an alarmingly high rate of childhood cancer.
The kids were not happy with the loud music at the fairgrounds.
Neither one of our kids like loud noises or groups of people,
this is pretty much how they look out in public. 

- Saturday night we got a book of Usborne Books in the mail. Thank you Mama and Dad for Annabeth's science and history books for next school year! What a blessing!

- Mark worked a 12 hour shift at his part time job.

- I continued my summer babysitting job and ran my first Usborne Party. I am enjoying my Usborne journey so far and cannot wait to see what kind of financial freedom it can bring our family! If you are looking for books for your classroom, homeschool, or just as a gift to give check out my Usborne page!

- Monday afternoon I saw a friend's FB post saying that her two youngest were selling lemonade. We drove over and Annabeth enjoyed paying, and tipping, her friend for lemonade. Miss Madi said she is planning on saving all of the money she made! Very wise! :)

- The kids had swimming lessons this week. It was Annabeth's third summer taking lessons with Miss Abby. Abby is so sweet and SO affordable! I pay just $10/half hour private lesson! This is a huge savings as the city pool is double for private lessons for the week! I was really thankful for Abby's good prices as Owen only swam about 3 minutes each day.

- I meal-planned and then shopped for the week. We did not have any food waste again this week. I have been meal-planning, only shopping my list, and sticking to the meal-plan. This is often easier said than done.

- I cut both of the kids' hair at home. My mama and I are the only ones that have ever cut the kids hair saving us hundreds of dollars on haircuts!

- Tuesday evening the kids did not pick up their toys when I asked. I set the timer and when the timer went off all toys that were not picked up were taken to be donated. We were able to donate half a trash bag of toys. They quickly picked up their toys the rest of the week.

We are looking forward to a great holiday weekend celebrating our freedom as Americans!

Today we celebrate that 10 years ago tonight, Mark asked me to marry him! Happy Engagement-versary Mark! :)

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Frugal Friday 198

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last weekend was Annabeth's dance recital. We spent Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at the FCHS PAC. I packed snacks, lunches, and dinners each day so we did not pick up fast food. We also only made one purchase from the snack stand while there - Owen and I had to have one of Debbie's amazing cupcakes!

- My parents came up for the weekend and were kind enough to keep Owen for us on Saturday while we went to both recitals. They also bought us groceries while they were here! Thank you!!

- Mama and Dad came to rehearsal on Friday and Dad videoed Annabeth's dance as well as a friend's dance. He edited them and made copies for family and friends while he was here. Thank you so much Dad!

- We celebrated Father's Day with a brunch and Sunday Sundaes with my parents and then we enjoyed Sunday dinner out at Jockamo's with Mark's parents. Mark's parents graciously bought dinner for everyone and sent home leftover pizza. The kids made Mark and both of the grandpas homemade cards that I think were enjoyed by all. We hope our Dad's felt very loved and we are so thankful for the blessing they are in our lives.

- I made and sold 17 gift tags. Made: $20

- I continued my summer babysitting job.

- Annabeth and three of her friends attended a FREE vacation Bible school this week. Our church is hosting one this next week but it goes pretty late into the evening so we took her to Uncle Luke and Auntie Cassidy's church which hosted it from 9-12 each morning this week.

- While Annabeth was at VBS, I did some cleaning out at home. I was able to get rid of half-a-tote of papers and a diaper box + wipe box of items went to Goodwill. Most of those items were little McDonald's toys that no one plays with but when we clean out we "have" to keep. We also took a rough piece of furniture to Goodwill this week after moving around Annabeth's room.

- I ordered Annabeth's "big" birthday gift this week. It is quite early but we have an item that she would like/will need for dance in the years to come that it pretty expensive. I bookmarked it last winter and have been watching closely for sales. This week I was able to get a larger, nicer item for less than the one we had originally looked at. Her birthday is now done from us except for some kind of small gift that we will allow Owen to choose for her.

- I sent a box of bear themed items to a former camper, now friend, who has a baby boy and has the married name of Bear. I hope Jenni and Ezra enjoy the bear items!

- Annabeth and I sorted through her dance wear and pulled out the items that she has outgrown. I listed items for sale on Facebook and was able to sell all of them in the first hour! Made: $25

- This week I took a huge leap of faith, following weeks of prayer, and I have joined Usborne Books & More as an Independent Consultant. I am looking forward to having my first parties in the next few weeks! Please let me know if you would like to earn some FREE books! Also, you will always be able to shop my website anytime: Amy Riley's Usborne Books & More We are hoping that this new venture will be a financial blessing for our family.

Proof that my kids will read any time, anywhere! :) 

We had a great week! Annabeth enjoyed VBS so much and I loved having some special one-on-one time with just Owen! We are looking forward to a fun weekend at the Greenwood Freedom Festival and Relay for Life at the Johnson County Fairgrounds!

Happy Savings to All!