Friday, March 24, 2017

Frugal Friday 185

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last Friday was St. Patrick's Day. I made corned beef and carrots with cabbage for dinner. My parents were up for a visit and we baked chocolate chip cookies with the kids that afternoon. Mark ended up getting called in to work at the hospital and worked an extra 7 hour shift.

- Mark's parents brought Annabeth pink roses to help her celebrate her second dance recital. She felt so special and they have made a beautiful decoration in our kitchen all week.

Annabeth with her gorgeous pink roses.
Owen has to do what she is doing all the time so he is in the picture too :)
At the end of the dance afternoon, they were so sweet just hugging each other -
they really miss each other when they are apart. 

- Saturday evening we treated Mama to dinner out and gifted her with cards made by the kids to help her celebrate her birthday. Our big gift is that we are going to help her clean out their attic later this year. My parents are, like so many, in the process of getting rid of things so Mama asked for help with a project rather than more things.

- Sunday we all went to the Children's Museum in Indianapolis. This was such an awesome Christmas gift as we have already been a bunch this year and our pass is good through the end of next January! My parents had not been since my sister and I were little and we all had so much fun! It was great to go with a group of adults as my parents were able to take Annabeth around to what she wanted to see and Mark and I took Owen to the trains, his happy place.

- I enjoyed reading two magazines that I get for free: InStyle and The Informer.

- I ordered Owen new tennis shoes. I ordered them from Stride Rite through Ebates and earned 4.5% cashback. I earned our next $10 reward so we will save big on our next purchase. I also love that we always have free shipping with Stride Rite Rewards!

- Boxed.com was featured on Zulily this week. I scored some AWESOME deals! I was able to order 85 dishwasher pods for the price I usually pay for 22 of them! I also was able to buy three big boxes of snacks for the kids (106 snacks) for under $30! I also ordered gallon size storage bags at a great price to donate to the Meal Bags that we fill at Franklin Church of God. I saved $45 off retail prices, earned 1% cashback through Ebates, and got free 2-day shipping! When the box came there was also a free coloring book and crayons inside.

- I got an awesome deal on frozen pizzas by combining a sale and high dollar coupon. I was so excited for the sale, and checking for Annabeth and Owen allergens, that I bought one I am allergic to. We were able to pass it on to a friend for her family to enjoy.

- Our friends brought us two bottles of multivitamins for the kids. This was a HUGE blessing as it is about $18 worth of vitamins for free!

- I used a $2 off my order coupon to get Annabeth a new jump rope at Kroger. I don't usually use coupons this way but hers was broken last fall by some friends and she has been asking for a new one all winter. This was was a "perfect" rainbow one and since it was exactly $2 I figured it was meant to be hers.

Overall this was such a lllooonnngggg week. Owen came down with the stomach flu on Monday and was pretty sick until Wednesday night which meant we had to stay home all week. Not being able to leave the house often leaves me in a pretty terrible mood just a few days in. I am thankful that he is better and that we were able to get out to the grocery and tap class yesterday.

Happy Savings to All!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

My Faith

A few weeks ago, a reader contacted me through Facebook to ask about my faith. I have been praying on how best to share my faith. Here goes...

First and foremost, above all else, above being a wife and mama - I am a follower of Jesus Christ.
I believe that God made in the world in 6 days. I believe He sent his only son to die for our sins. I believe that at the end of this life I will go Home to praise Him forever.

What church/denomination do I belong to?
I am a United-Methodist Christian. I first started, regularly, attending a UMC church in middle school. It was my decision to become confirmed in this church and have continued to attended UMC churches each place I have lived (Evansville, Louisville, Camp Lakeview, and now in the Indianapolis area). I am not opposed to attending other churches and do so while visiting family or on vacation. If you are interested in learning what it means to be a United Methodist and/or what our church believes please visit the UMC Website.

Did I grow up in a church?
Yes, I grew up attending church with my family. My parents were raised in two different churches and chose a third to raise us girls in. We attended that church until the year 2000 when we switched to a UMC church. I am thankful to have attended one church as a child, a different kind of church school, and even different churches as we went with my grandparents. This showed me that all churches that are Bible based and true to the Word are basically the same. It helped me to be less attached to my specific denomination and more attached to Christianity as a whole.

When did I begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
I do not remember the exact moment that I became a believer but I know about when it happened. I was 12, I was in the midst of an awful developmental phase, and attended summer camp. I remember laying on the tennis courts, looking at the stars and realizing, maybe for the first time, that God made those stars. It hit me like a ton of bricks - He made them. He made me. He loved me.
Although, I had grown up in the church, going to Children's Church, Sunday School, and VBS it was always just what we did. That summer my faith became more than just something I did - it became integral to who I am.
I think back often to that summer and thank God for allowing my heart to soften to His Word during really key developmental years. I returned to school, 7th grade, after that summer and I was very sure of what I believed. I really think my strong convictions helped me to walk a straight and narrow path while so many wandered around me.

How did my faith change how I lived?
My faith helped me make key decisions over the years.
I strove to live a life pleasing to the Lord.
I made the decision to not drink alcohol or use any kind of drugs.
I made the decisions to be very intentional about the friends I had and what activities I chose to do with them. I am thankful to my parents who said "no" to things like rated R movies and certain social gatherings as I now realize that they were helping me avoid situations that definitely could have led to trouble.
At 16, I realized that I wanted to wait to kiss only one man. I am thankful that decision came to me on December night as waiting for my husband was one of the best, and most precious, decisions I have made in my life.

Why don't I drink alcohol?
I do not drink alcohol because the Bible warns against being drunk (Ephesians 5:18 is one example). Many will claim that merely having an alcoholic beverage is not the same as being an drunkard. That may be true but everyone who is a drunkard started with just one drink. I do not know of any one who drinks alcohol who can honestly say that they have not ever gone too far while drinking. I believe that at all times we should be seeking to do the will of God. For me, that has included my high school and college years, my 21st birthday, our wedding, and many others times when so many that I know have taken things too far while drinking. I want to be very careful and intentional with my time and I do not want to squander time. If I were to drink, even socially, I would be missing an opportunity to share God's Word, to be a good friend, to love on others. I will not allow my own body, mind, or relationships to be ruined by a substance.

What are some times my faith changed my life?
-- First of all, knowing that I was created by THE Creator, knowing that the One who put the stars in the sky knows my name, knowing that God thought the world needed me - that's pretty life changing. It humbles me each time I remember that when God loved the world enough to send His son (John 3:16) to die on the cross, He thought of me. He died for me. It's incredible to think.
-- When I was 17, my Mama suggested I take a look at the University of Louisville as a college option. I had always wanted to go to a small, Christian school and I didn't want to go far from home. That summer we drove to UofL, pulled into the parking lot, and I knew it was it. I felt this incredible calm, I heard a voice say "This is it." And it was. I had an incredible three years of college at UofL (two hours from home and a huge public university) and feel so incredibly blessed by the experiences I had, lessons learned, and people encountered before graduating and moving on.
-- When I was 19, I was having a conversation with a camp co-worker. He and I weren't even really friends. I heard a voice say, "This is the man you will marry." I prayed over that statement for days and when the resolution didn't seem to be changing, I began praying that God would indeed prepare me to be his wife someday. I married him 3 years later and being Mark's wife is such an incredible honor.
-- After Annabeth was born, we realized that we would eventually outgrow our first little house. We spent about 10 months looking for houses in three different towns. I finally gave up, convinced we would never find the right house or even the right town to move to. In my quiet time, I kept hearing "submit." Every devotional I read, every verse I read, pointed to a wife submitting to her husband. About three weeks into that, we saw a friend's house for sale. It was okay to me but Mark loved it. He said, "This is it!" We looked at it again, I still didn't have a real feeling about it and I wanted/needed to have that feeling to be sure. I prayed and prayed and never felt sure. I just kept hearing "submit" and so I did. Mark's decision to move us to our current house in Franklin was absolutely the right choice for our family. We have made such incredible friends in this town and we have a wonderful group of neighbors that we really share our lives with. I am so thankful that I trusted Mark and God with the decision on the move because they were so right!

What I hope my children know about my faith:
I pray for my children and their salvation daily. I pray that they come to know the Lord. I pray that they know that they are loved unconditionally, made intentionally, and saved eternally.

It brings me incredible joy to be a child of the King of Kings, to have been saved by my precious Lord. That joy can also be yours, it is yours, if you just believe. If you have further questions about my faith or are in need of resources, please reach out, I pray daily for those who read my blog and pray that each reader would come to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Amen.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Frugal Friday 184

Happy Frugal Friday!
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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

- Last Friday, the kids and I went to the Children's Museum of Indianapolis. My parents gave us a pass for the year and we are happy to be able to go as often as we would like! They have added a circus exhibit since we were there last time and it was very neat! When we went last, we spent the day on the third floor so Friday we explored the circus and the Lower Level. Owen was especially fun on this trip as he is finally walking and confident enough to get out of the stroller and explore some too!

Owen LOVES to push buttons so sitting in the spaceship full of
buttons was like heaven for him!
 Growing up my family went to the circus every Thanksgiving but 
we haven't been with Annabeth because she is so afraid of people in costumes.
She did love the circus exhibit so it gave me some hope for a future trip
to the real circus! 
 Owen spent a good half hour in this little tunnel looking at the trains.
In Georgia, we walked by an awesome Railroad Museum filled with trains and 
he could have cared less. We were a month too soon because he loved the trains this time!
Choo! Choo!

- The kids and I hit up a consignment store that is going out of business. She just announced that she is closing so items were only 25% off. I found two shirts for Annabeth - one for gymnastics and one for this summer. I saved $3.

- Mark worked two nights at his part time job.

- Mark worked security for the SSPOM Sale. He works this twice a year and they pay very well. We are thankful for this blessing in our budget.

- The kids and I volunteered to help fill meal bags with the Church of God in Franklin. We have been doing this for over a year now and enjoy visiting while we work. If you are local and interested in donating time or supplies please let me know!

- Sunday morning worship had a guest minister Reverend Tom Heaton. He was a pastor at my church in Evansville and now runs Mission Guatemala. I have always loved his sermons and it was refreshing to hear his words about what the Lord is doing in Guatemala.  Tom and his son Manuel have endured so much, including the killing of his oldest son Jose, to live and work with the people of Guatemala. Please pray for his family and the work that is being done there.

- Sunday evening Mark and I had dinner from Firehouse Subs thanks to a gift card from my sister. Thank you for dinner Lu!

- I cleaned out the school cabinet. I had almost an entire tote of paper and filled workbooks to take to recycling. I also found quite a few items that went straight to the trash.

- In cleaning out my dresser some of the things I kept just putting back in were bras that don't fit. I know that bras are expensive and I hated to just give them to Goodwill - even though these will never fit again. I ended up finding a group in Indianapolis that repairs and donates bras to women in need, free of charge! I mailed mine to them. Check out their Facebook page Support the Girls if you also have unwanted bras that need a new home!

- I continued cleaning out as much as I can! Every year, at the end of winter, I get really antsy and just start tossing as much as I can. Every year, I am amazed at how many things I can easily say good-bye to.

Are you all doing spring cleaning? What are you parting ways with?

Happy Savings to All!


Friday, March 10, 2017

Frugal Friday 183

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Mark worked a shift at his part time job.

- Friday we celebrated Mark's 29th birthday. The kids and I made him cute, hand and footprint cards. I made stuffed peppers for dinner and we served Halo ice cream for dessert. Mark got to pick the Friday Night Movie since it was his birthday so we watched Young Frankenstein after the kids went to bed



- Last Friday I babysat for a friend. The kids LOVED having Lachlan here! Owen is obsessed with "babies" and was in heaven having a younger friend here to love on! Ben was kind enough to bring us a bag of coffee as a thank you. The coffee is from Betos Coffee which is a non-profit run by a friend of his in Central America .

- Saturday, Mark's mom kept Owen for the morning so we could go to Annabeth's first dance competition. Not only did she come super early to keep him, she was kind enough to pick up Starbucks on the way. Thank you so much Kristi! I was so stressed about learning the ropes of dance competitions and keeping Owen home was a huge blessing for this first competition!


- Sunday afternoon, Mark's family came over to celebrate our birthdays and our sister-in-law's birthday as well. They brought over a taco salad bar and a couple of yummy dessert options. I was excited for some new stationary and scrapbook supplies, postage stamps, beautiful earrings, and a gift card. Thank you all for making our birthdays so special!

- Now that we are done with our birthdays, I put all of the gift bags and tissue paper in storage so we can use them in the future.

- I purchased a Starbucks drink using a gift card. I made sure to purchase it on double stars day. I also purchased it at Kroger and swiped my Kroger card so I would be able to get points towards a fuel discount from the purchase.

We had a great week and got quite a few clean-out and spring cleaning tasks done. We are looking forward to some community service this weekend and hopefully, after Mark being gone all week, some family time!

Happy Savings to All!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Good-Bye

"Good-Bye"

That little phrase has, unfortunately, been kind of our theme phrase for the past year or so.

In the fall of 2015, we lost both Mark's Grandpa Ed and his Great Grandpa Bob. Both of these losses were especially difficult for Annabeth. They were the first time that she dealt with death that she could rememeber and it was the first time she understood that they wouldn't be back. I sometimes still find her looking a bit sad and when asked why she will say, "I miss Grandpa Bob."

This school year, Kindergarten, has come with some good-byes as well. Most of our friends are now in school four or five days a week making it nearly impossible to get together to play. Annabeth doesn't understand why we can't just run over to people's houses to play. She is missing one friend desperately - they live about an hour away and when the girls were little we played nearly every week. She cries all the time to see this friend and as a Mama, I just wish I could make the schedules work so we could play! It breaks my heart to watch her cry from missing a friend.

Last week, our dear friend Cynthia came by to say "See you later" for the last time while she lives here in Indiana. Cynthia's husband is in the army and their three years here have come to a close. Cynthia and her girls were my biggest support through my pregnancy with Owen and then when he was a baby. Having them right here, in our neighborhood, was the biggest blessing! We are thankful that they will be in Colorado, just one plane ride away, but Facebook and phone calls just won't be the same as having them right here.

The kids waving "See you later" to Cynthia as she left. 

We learned over the weekend that our neighbor and dear friend, Mr. Wheatley has entered the Life Eternal. Between Mark and I, we only have one grandparent left. We have been so richly blessed with neighbors on both sides that have kind of become grandparents for the kids and ourselves. Ed and Gloria and the Wheatleys have helped to fill some big holes left by the passing of our grandparents. Mr. Wheatley has been ill since the summer so we know that his passing was an end to suffering but it's so sad to think of just Mrs. being next door.

It is difficult for me, even as an adult, to say "Goodbye" and it's even more difficult to navigate as a parent. I don't want the kids to feel pain or to miss people and yet it's part of life. I pray that we are doing a good job of showing them how to remember fondly and to also move on. Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us that life is full of seasons, I am just so sad to see some sweet seasons of friendships moving into new seasons.


Monday, March 6, 2017

I Cry Every Time She Dances

Annabeth had her first dance competition on Saturday.

Our Tiny Dancer!

Her group earned an "Outstanding" distinction and we were all SO impressed with how well they did. For three of the six girls, it was their first time competing on stage.

As always, she danced and I cried.

A few years ago, I wrote about crying when she danced at home.

Those feelings haven't gone away.

I don't know why dancing is the trigger for me, but I always go back to the day she was born. I think about having her, losing her, and her coming back to us. I think about meeting her, blue-grey and lifeless. I think about waiting to hear from NICU, the doctor's phone ringing non-stop during the surgery, I think of those two tiny pictures NICU took and let Mark bring to me and I think about begging God to "please save our baby." In those hours that I waited to see her, I made God so many promises. I promised Him that we would give her the world, that we would do everything for her, and that we would enjoy every moment if He would just save her. I promise God that we would train her up to love Him and to serve Him. I promised God that if he made her heart beat again that we would do our best to be sure she used every day of her life to glorify Him.

The first time I sat alone with her and cried and cried just holding her. I made her all of those same promises. I promised her that if she would just stay strong and stay with us that I would help her accomplish any and ever dream she had.

She loves it, dancing. Her smile is SO huge, the joy radiates off her as she dances.
Maybe every parent feels that way about their child.
When I see her dance though, I am reminded that God restarted her heart, He brought her back to life. He gave us that day, all the ones since, and He gave us today.
The incredible blessing of spending today with her.

So, sweet Miracle Girl, may you always dance and while you dance I will watch, and cry, and thank God for the incredible gift of you.



Friday, March 3, 2017

Frugal Friday 182

Happy Frugal Friday!
Happy 29th Birthday to Mark!

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

- Friday evening we attended our county's Lincoln Day Dinner. We enjoyed a nice evening out and heard some good Republican Speakers.

All dressed up for the Lincoln Day Dinner.
We are proud to be conservative voters and were happy to attend an event
with so many local leaders who we support. 

- I finally finished and ordered our photo book from vacation. I used a FREE photo book coupon from Shutterfly and just paid for the 4 extra pages I added + shipping. My total was $12.61 and I went though Ebates for 2% cashback.

- I celebrated my birthday with my family in Evansville and Owensboro. Both my parents and my Momaw gifted items to help display the sand, shells, and photos I brought back from vacation. Momaw also included a stack of grocery coupons in my gift. Thank you all!

- I added a bit of my birthday money to next year's vacation fund.

- Mark worked at his part-time job.

- We redeemed a FREE large pizza deal from Papa John's. I used this on Tuesday, the day we came back from Evansville, and it was really nice to have someone else cook dinner while I unpacked!

- Annabeth received a Good Luck Bag from her dance school to help pump her up for her first competition tomorrow. She was very excited for all of the snack foods and the sweet note from her teacher's helper Annalee.

- Yesterday the kids and I did a little landscape project to surprise Mark for his birthday. He turns 29 today and we have some fun cards and a little present but we wanted to get the big, outside gift done yesterday while we had sunshine!

For Christmas, Momaw gave us money to replace our outdoor lights.
We had the old, late 90s gold ones still up from when the house was built.
We were more than happy to put up these gorgeous stained glass lights!
When we first moved in, we cleared out some old white rock and bushes next to the driveway.
We planted these cute little trees and take the kids' "First Day of School" pictures next to one of them.
We had thought that grass would grow around the little trees that we put in but no such luck,
we have just had muddy areas around the trees.  
I river-rocked around both trees.
We have been wanting to do this for some time but it always seemed like the 
$70 needed to complete the project would be better spent somewhere else. 
I made a point to save up for this and think that it was well worth it!

We are looking forward to a great weekend with Annabeth's first dance competition and celebrating our birthdays and our sister-in-law's birthday all on Sunday afternoon.

Happy Savings to All!