Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Photo Favorites!

We had a very blessed Christmas season!

We were able to spend a record 5! days in Evansville/Owensboro with my family. We very much enjoyed getting to see most of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. We also had a wonderful evening celebrating with our Family Group Bible Study. We came home Christmas night and have spent the past four days with Mark's side of the family. We have been able to celebrate with his parents, grandpas, and brothers as well as their families. We were especially excited to see the SD Rileys - our first time seeing them since August and we loved cuddling with our precious nieces and nephew.

Here is our Christmas, in our favorite photos:

Some of us Group Kids and our Kids. 
Our parents were part of an assigned Advent Group when they were "Young Marrieds." That 6 week Bible Study has resulted in more than 25 years of friendship, studying the word, and creating our own special family - now three generations deep in love. 

Aunt Lu and Annabeth enjoying a McDonald's playdate/lunch date on Christmas Eve.
Our goal was to wear her out - Lu succeeded!  

Christmas Morning with Grandmama-Mimi and Grandpa Kuhn  

Christmas Afternoon in Kentucky. We enjoyed special time with my cousin's wife/my friend Jill and their sweet son Cooper in from Florida. We had such a wonderful afternoon! ALL of my cousins and their children were in town! It was the first time we all have been together as a new baby was added just this fall! God is so good! 

The Riley Cousins! Annabeth was so happy to see the SD Rileys! 

Cousin Love.
They spent a lot of time just holding hands.

The Three of Us.
Just as we are.
Annabeth being crazy and us just laughing.

We love the  Christmas season and love seeing all of our family and friends. Even more, we enjoy celebrating the birth of our precious Lord and Savior. For from Him, all blessings come.
Merry Christmas Time!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Frugal Friday 19

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely/worked to make extra money this week:

- My sister and I did some last minute Christmas shopping at Target and were able to save 10% off our order. The store was giving all customers a 10% discount off their total order to help make up for the credit card issue their shoppers had. Thanks Target! Saved: $3.90

- LucyAnne and I decided to take extra advantage of the extra 10% off by purchasing our shopping trip snacks (Starbucks) Saved: $.40

- Christmas Eve we did not have plans with friends or family until the evening so we had a LONG, cold day to fill. Mark, Lu, and I took Annabeth to a McDonald's for lunch and to play in the indoor playground! Not totally free fun but under $10 for lunch, entertainment, and a good long nap that followed

- I received an e-mail from the Here We Grow Again- Indy South Sale owners that it is registration time for the Spring 2014 Sale. I signed up and will begin transferring tags from last fall's unsold items to the spring sale AND tagging new items. My goal for this sale is 75 items and $100. We shall see...

Another short one this week! We have simply been enjoying precious time with family and friends!

Merry Christmas Week to All! We pray you have enjoyed celebrating our Savior's Birth!

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference!"

Friday, December 20, 2013

Frugal Friday 18

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is what we have been doing to save money/spend money wisely this week:

- I mended my black leggings and one of Annabeth's solid shirts. Both are staples and just had small holes. I couldn't see buying new so I just fixed them up.

- We met friends at The Commons playground in Columbus. We first enjoyed a lunch out and then had FREE fun playing on the playground and exchanging Christmas gifts!

- After a lengthy wait and even longer sick visit exam at the doctors, I treated Annabeth to Apple Juice at McDonald's. FREE thanks to a coupon from her Auntie Cassidy and Uncle Luke. Saved: $1.00

- Mark's mom sent over some yummy Christmas goodies! So kind of her!

- We checked out lots of dinosaur books and some movies for movie night at our library. FREE!
*Good thing because Mark and I both have something we are affectionately calling "The Death Flu." We have called in Nana (Mark's mom) to come get Annabeth and for the first time I am letting Annabeth spend the night away from us. Pray for me!*

Due to "The Death Flu" this ends this Frugal Friday because it feels awful to be in a sitting position.

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Monkey Arms

Happy Last Throwback Thursday!

I have enjoyed sharing some points from my past that have helped shape who I am today. I hope you have enjoyed reading!

I feel like, writing as a woman, body image issues have to be addressed. I decided to be really brave and share what I am most self-conscious about.

My arm hair. (Please note: This picture does not do it justice! There is so much!)

My parents both plenty of arm hair so I am doubly "blessed" and have even more than both of them! It really started showing around my middle school years - perfect timing right? In the 7th and 8th grade, a group of boys started calling me "Monkey Arms" and as us girls waited in the lunch line (they separated each grade into two lunch sessions - boys and girls) they would point, laugh, and comment. Around that same time, those boys saw a movie called "Congo" which features an ape named "Amy." Oh the irony...

I took to wearing long sleeves. I once shaved my arms and quickly realized I didn't want to have to do that every day for the rest of my life so I went back to the hairiness.

In high school, I became somewhat more okay with my hairy arms but I still did my best to hide them under long sleeves and especially in pictures. Then, around junior year, my Mama found this amazing Avon product that bleaches dark hair without turning it orange! It was a huge turning point, we invested in many bottles of it, and I finally felt like I didn't have to worry.


As I led a tour of future students and their parents, I asked if there were any questions or comments. One parent raised his hand. "Yes?" I said. He replied, "Dang girl! You have the hairiest arms I have ever seen!"

Yes. A parent said that!


By college I stopped caring and quite honestly with the exception of wedding pictures and holding Annabeth pictures I have forgotten to hide them. Then...

Last fall, my best friend and I went to a new nail salon to treat ourselves to pedicures and manicures. All was going well until the manicure, I rolled up my sleeves, the manicurist began the process. Then she giggled. A tiny, little giggle. I immediately thought of my arm hair. Then I thought, "No. Amy. Stop. It's not about that." More tittering, giggling. Finally, in a Cambodian accent, "Oh. You have hair like monkey." Fits of laughter.

So...there you have it...I am most self-conscious about my arm hair. My monkey arm hair to be exact. But, in the end, Mark says he doesn't mind it and Annabeth loves to brush it so I guess it's okay with me :)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dinosaurs, Dragons, and Monsters!

Annabeth's Three Favorite Things.

Our conversations are currently about these three things.

Example 1:
We have been working on getting Annabeth to say her name and age. Today practice went like this:
Me: What is your name?
A: "AB."
Me: "Annabeth what?"
A: "Din-saur."
Me: "How about Annabeth Sage Riley?"
A: "Syeah. Monser." (aka Monster)
Me: "Okay. How old are you?"
A: "Dragon!"

Example 2:
We went to lunch with friends today. As we were leaving this happened:
Me: "Okay, let's go Annabeth."
A: "No. I dragon. RAHAHRHRR!" *Puts hands in front of her mouth and waves. "FIRE!"

The love of dragons came from a children's show that she and Mark have been watching since last spring, "Jane and the Dragon." The monster interest came when she learned about Cookie Monster because he is on her Pampers diapers and she now loves saying things in a "monster" voice which consists of jumbling a bunch of letters together and growling. As for the dinosaurs, she just loves picking out every library book she can find about them. I can say that I am learning a lot about all three! 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Annabeth: Toddler Fashion Diva

I am not a fashionista. I like to look nice. I like to be presentable and appropriate for the occasion. I LOVE jewelry and accessories like scarves and hair bands/barrettes. However, I am not ever one who looks like a fashion spread or the displays at the mall. In fact, today I have on 8 year old leggings, simple tanks, and a hand-me-down cardigan from my younger sister.

BUT we do have one fashionista in our house and she is only 2!

Annabeth LOVES to pick out her clothes in the morning. As soon as she is up, she is in her closet looking for things to wear, finding shoes, and yelling "Bow! Bow!" until I get one out for her hair. She loves playing with my makeup and has even claimed a few of my purses as her own.

Need an example?

Here is what she picked to wear today:

Friday, December 13, 2013

Frugal Friday 17

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

- We enjoyed free fun at home in the snow! We also made Snow Ice Cream

- Marked ordered Chinese on Sunday so we did pay for "eat-out" food but we also ate it for three meals. So yummy!

- We went to Target to shop for our quarterly round of items there. We really like their different snacks for Annabeth. When I got to the toddler food section someone had left their good coupons for what we needed!! Saved: $2.00

- We decided it was time to get rid of Annabeth's funky chunk/rat tail piece of hair. We cut her hair at home and also did the "first haircut package" with pictures and keepsake locks of hair. Saved: $17.95

 The funky chunk/rat tail reason for the haircut

 Chop Chop!

 Nanners and her new do! Looking too old! :(

- We cleaned out Annabeth's toys in preparation for the Christmas gifts that she will have coming soon. We ended up with three "give-away bags" - one went to Goodwill, one to my aunt and uncle for their new granddaughter to enjoy when visiting their house, and one to a teacher friend's Prize Box in her classroom. We pray that when Annabeth is older she will truly understand what we are doing when we clean out and that she will love giving better than receiving.

- I am still earning points on Swagbucks and money through advertising on this blog. Thank you for taking a moment to click on the ads - every click adds a little money to Annabeth's college fund!

Total Saved: $19.95

What have you been doing to save money? Do you clean out before Christmas?

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference" 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Words from my Younger Self

Happy Throwback Thursday!

In true Throwback fashion I have reread my high school journals and am including some wise (perhaps beyond my years) words. Enjoy!

"Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose." - The Wonder Years

I have had one of the happiest, most joyful weeks of my life. Why, you might ask. Well, I have no idea. Nothing superb or amazing has happened and yet I am sitting on top of the world. Major annoyances are being taken in stride and all of my world feels okay. Hmm...who am I? Oh, to be 16!

As always, I must use the last day of the year to reflect on the year as a whole. - This was my butterfly year. I spread my wings and learned to fly. I gave my time and love to the world. I left little bits of me all over the country. In this year, I allowed myself to tell someone how I really felt. My New Year's Resolution for 2004: to allow myself to fully love someone AND accept their love in return. I aim to dive in the deep end just to see what it feels like to sink, swim, or float.

Today I am 17! My first words of wisdom and a great lesson to include in my journal is that: no matter what happens with others learn from that person who you do or don't want to be. The hardest thing to do is say nothing at all. Happy Birthday Amy!

I came home from Lakeview yesterday. Oh goodness, I love that place! Maybe it is the constant awareness of God surrounding me or the time in nature, the people, or the love. I cannot pinpoint it but I love it. I cannot say I learned any huge life lessons however I grew so much in my faith these past two weeks.
"Amazing love, How can it be, That you my King would die for me. It's my joy to honor You, in all I do, I honor You."

Lately I have been feeling very unappreciated by certain friends. So much so that I have withdrawn from a lot of people and social situations. I had confided this in Treva earlier this week in a phone call. Then today, in band class, Treva gives me this note and and a bag. The note says "Thanks for it all! I love you!" She told me to open the bag. I expected a poptart or candy but when I opened the bag it was a whole bag of notes saying "Thank You." She had gone to all of our friends and had them write to me. It was by far one of the sweetest and best moments of my life.
**Note: I still have this bag of notes and each time we clean out my dresser I take the time to read them and smile. Proof that the little things matter so much**

In the insanity of my return to reality from the beauty of Lakeview, I struggled to find a way to write this. I know that it will not be perfect nor will it come close to being able to express my emotions I feel but I am going to try. There's this song called "Breathe" and the last two lines are "I'm lost without You, I'm desperate for You."
I've sung that song every summer at camp and I have always liked those lines but never fully grasped their meaning. But the night of Jesus Walk there was a huge storm. It had started as just rain so we were trying to hurry from station to station. My little girls were scared of the storm and some were whimpering. My cabin was on the porch of Ottawa and a huge branch fell on the roof. The whimpering turned to screaming and we ran through the woods back to the dinning hall. As I ran holding hands, with two very afraid little girls, I realized I was completely helpless. I couldn't stop the rain or the thunder or the lightening. So, as we ran I said, "Let's pray!" I said one of the most desperate prayers of my life. I prayed that all of camp would safely reach the dinning hall, that the Lord would calm the little ones fears, and that the storm would end soon.
When I got home and reflected on my two weeks as a JC I kept going back to that moment and I realized it was like the song. I was lost I was desperate, and I turned to Him.

And from my last day of my first year at UofL:

It's the middle of the afternoon and I am sitting outside of the UofL Library. 9 months ago, I sat on the other side of this sidewalk and wrote about being so proud of living my first day alone at college. I remember walking around campus and finding each building for my classes. There were no people, just me. Today is much like that. I felt the need to complete this year as I started it. 9 months ago the walk here was so exciting because each new turn on the path was new and unexplored. On my walk here today, I smiled as each turn holds a memory. This year I did things I never dreamt of doing and also things my heart could never have even dreamt they were all so wonderful. I poured my heart and soul into this place and these people. I have no regrets on how I spent my time or who I spent it with. I think about how many hundreds of times I stopped my life and just fully appreciated and loved the moment I was in. I fully loved the peopled I met here. I haven't wasted many moments and the few I did were just because I wasn't fully soaking in the moment or loving the person I was with. I feel so much peace in my life and love and my heart.

I love that last entry especially. It was so true and hopeful and pure. That month my life changed completely as I lost one of my closest friends in a car accident and met Mark the week after that. But for this one entry, this one moment, life was just perfect at 19.

Words from my younger self, so much to learn from, even now.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Snow Day!

We were blessed with the first "real" snow of the season this weekend!

It started snowing late Thursday evening and did not end for about 24 hours. It was a slow, gradual snow fall which made it extra fluffy and beautiful! Our trees are beautiful and the limbs are gorgeously covered in snow. Mark estimates we ended up with about 6-7 inches.

Annabeth's first two winters she hated the snow. Hated it! Poor girl would burst into tears anytime we even walked across the backyard to the garage at the old house. She was just not happy so we were a bit worried about how she would fare this winter. She is such a nature girl and loves to be outdoors from morning until night so I was hoping she would learn to love the snow so we can continue enjoying days outside.

She loves it this year!

We spent Saturday afternoon outside as a family: making snowballs, making videos of the snow, and tromping around our yard as well as the lot next door. It was a beautiful day and we loved just being together.

We came inside, mostly due to the cold and Annabeth's wet mittens and hands, and made snow ice cream. Mark said that was something he had never done so I think he may have enjoyed it even more than Annabeth and I did! :)

Snow Ice Cream

4 Cups Snow
3/4 Cup Milk (we used vanilla soy milk)
2/3 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
Add sprinkles or your favorite topping if you'd like!

Fill one very large bowl with snow and fill another smaller bowl inside of that one with the 4 cups of snow. This keeps the snow from melting as you mix the ingredients.

Mix all ingredients together.


Originally we had planned to go back outside but once we were indoors and warm we decided that we would just let Annabeth play with the snow in the kitchen. We filled our largest mixing bowl and got out measuring cups and spoons and let her go to town!

Snow much fun! 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Frugal Friday 16

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is what we did to save money/spent money wisely/make money creatively this week:

- We put up our Christmas tree on the day after Thanksgiving only to discover that our 8 year old hand-me-down tree was looking very worn and only had about half of it's "pre-lit" lights working. Mark ran out to Lowe's and was able to get us a new tree on a Black Friday Sale! We had budgeted and planned to buy one after the holidays but this worked just as well because we have a very nice looking tree now. Saved: $100

- We hurried and took our family Christmas card picture in front of the tree and ordered our Christmas cards from Sam's Club. Every year on Thanksgiving Weekend they run a sale and we are able to get 100 cards for $15. Saved: $10

- We got another free offer from Shutterfly that allowed us to finish a Christmas gift. Saved: $14.99

- Last week we finished most of our Christmas shopping at Kohl's. I spent $51 and earned $15 Kohl's Cash. This Monday we went back to spend the $15 because we had gotten our last lists from people over the weekend. I was able to get a family member a $50 value gift AND a Color Wonder Set for Annabeth's stocking. Both items were on sale + coupon + Kohl's Cash = I had expected to pay between $10-$15 for the purchase - a great deal!! BUT both items rang up for less than they were marked and I only paid $.20!!!! Saved: $55.80

- I enjoyed a FREE Starbuck's coffee thanks to a Swagbucks' giftcard. Saved: $4.81

- We enjoyed a dinner out with a coupon that made Annabeth's Kid's Meal free. It was also large enough that she ate some of it later as a snack and for lunch the next day. Saved: $3.00

- We enjoyed an evening out at the library making ornaments for the library's tree as well as our own. Free Family Fun!

Annabeth and Mark making links for the Christmas Chain

- Mark worked two afternoons at a former teacher's house doing yard work and made some extra money. The extra money helped up purchase the new tree. God always provides!

Saved: $188.60

Did you score any great Black Friday deals? Are you earning extra money this holiday season?

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"

Thursday, December 5, 2013



I first heard this word at 20. It was fall of my final year of college and for about six months I had been in horrible pain during certain times of the month. Finally, I called home and told my mom I needed to see a doctor. 2 visits and 2 ultrasounds later I learned the words Endometriosis and Infertility.

Mark and I had been engaged since the summer before. We had discussed wanting children (him 2-3 and me 1-2) and just assumed they would be part of our lives after we married. I drove to visit Mark at school and we went through everything the doctors had said. I told him I wanted him to really think about marrying me. I knew that, more than anything, he wanted children and I knew that he was not necessarily open to adoption. I told him that I needed him to really pray and be sure that I was still the future wife for him. He did. He said I was. And in the months that followed the Lord opened Mark's heart to the idea of adoption.

We married in May 2009. We decided that we would allow the Lord to give us children when and how He saw fit. Then we waited. And waited. And waited.

A year in I saw my family doctor and we were referred to a specialist (read VERY expensive doctor) on the north side of Indy. I called the office and was scheduled six months out and nearly fainted when I heard the cost of one office visit. During that time, I switched family practitioners and found a wonderful doctor in Dr. Kimberly Franklin. She was the first one who suggested that our fertility struggles did have something to do with the Endometriosis but there may have been other underlying factors. We ran a ton of tests and found that while my blood sugar always tested fine my insulin levels were 10 points higher than the high end of the scale. I started on Metformin and changed my diet. She suggested a vitamin plan for Mark and myself. We foolishly thought this was the magic cure-all. I fully expected to be pregnant within the first few months of those changes. Still nothing.

It seemed every other week someone we knew was announcing a pregnancy: "We weren't even trying!" or "I cannot believe it's our third!" or "We just got drunk, I guess I'll marry her now." Every woman I knew had some crazy advice - and I tried ALL of it! It began to really consume our lives, the want for a child. We kept praying that adoption would feel right but it never did. We really felt the Lord answering a firm "no" to that prayer. That made it all feel even worse - not only did the Lord not see fit to give us a biological child but also was giving us strong feelings against adoption. We canceled the appointment with the fertility specialist. I shut down. I could no longer attend baby showers, shop for children, go to the mall (because every pregnant teenager would cause me to breakdown right then and there), I would avoid facebook and blogs in case someone else was revealing a pregnancy.

In October 2010, we put away the charts, the calender, the thermometer and we just gave up. No more. We decided that in the new year we would begin the adoption process even if we still felt the Lord saying "no." It was one of the lowest points in my life. The holidays that year were very less than merry - we were just trying to survive. All I could think was "How many more until we have a child?"

On New Year's Eve, I made the resolution to be happy as a family of 2. I vowed to enjoy the life the Lord had given me.

We started the year off busier than ever. We never got around to getting the adoption process started. We welcomed a visit from the SD Riley's, Mark worked Boy Scout Winter Camp, I hosted a ladies junk exchange - we started living again. Then, January 28, 2011 we realized that it wasn't just the two of us living life - we were THREE!

Everyday of expecting Annabeth, we lived in fear her little life would end. I counted hours between appointments to hear her heartbeat. We lived for that 20 week ultrasound. I slept so little and threw up so much. And then this happened. Then, by God's amazing grace, she was ours.

The name Anna means "God is merciful." We chose it because it's beautiful and it is in part a family name but in the end it fit so perfectly. God is in fact merciful. We are so blessed.

We know friends who have to adopt who are still waiting, after years, for a baby. We know friends who have been trying for years to conceive. We know that to those our nearly 2 year journey through infertility is nothing. To them we are blessed beyond measure - they are right.

God is merciful. To Him be all the glory.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

2013 Christmas Card Photoshoot

We shoot our own Christmas card photo each year. As in, Annabeth and I sit in front of the tree, Mark fights with the timer on our camera, sets the timer, and then runs to be in the photo. In the end, I think ours looks about as good as anyone else's. Last year, Mark took extra time and shot some portraits of Annabeth that turned out beautifully. We used one on the card and then had others made into 5x7s for our living room. We attempted to the same this year but a 2 year old is much more difficult to photograph than a 1 year old. Here's what we got...

Annabeth putting candy canes on the tree

We decided that our ornaments may not survive a Christmas with a very curious and hands-on 2 year old so we just planned to put candy canes on the tree. 

She quickly lost interest in hanging them and threw them in
a pile and exclaimed, "Finished!" 

Then I asked for one nice photo...

She was not interested in this photoshoot at all

They may not be perfect, in fact most professional photographers probably would have put these in the outtake pile, but this is who we are, right now. We are a family with a two year old with is busy, curious, and oh-so-sweet!

Merry Christmas Tree Time!