Friday, January 31, 2014

Frugal Friday 24

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Due to some Sunday afternoon crazies, we spent some fun FREE time at our local library. Annabeth and I enjoyed more than an hour of puzzles and good books. It was nice to get out and to burn off some of her energy

- We chose to eat pizza at home (instead of going out to a pizza place or having it delivered) twice this week. Saved: $20.00

- I was able to sell Annabeth's outfit from a previous Valentine's Day on facebook. Made: $7.00

- We enjoyed a day at the Newport Aquarium. Through February 28 they are offering 2 free children admissions with each paid adult admission so Annabeth was free. Saved: $15

Us girls in the shark tunnel! So much fun!

- After seeing that eating at the aquarium was going to cost $15 or more we decided to head to a nearby restaurant. We had seen Tom + Chee on the show Shark Tank and decided to go there. Annabeth and I were each able to get a sandwich, drink, fruit cup, and chips for $10! What an awesome deal! 

Annabeth and her bestie Bella enjoying grilled cheese

Total Saved: $35.00 
Extra Made: $7.00

What have you been doing to save money this week? What fun free things have you been doing?

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference!"

Monday, January 27, 2014

Modest Monday

As a Christian, women bloggers it seems we all have to address the "all skirts-all the time," "sometimes skirts," or "all pants-all the time" topic. Today I will address this topic in my life. My beliefs do not make me right and you wrong or both of us right and everyone else wrong. This is just meant to address how I dress, why, and how we choose to dress our daughter.

We choose to dress modestly because...

"Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works." 
1 Peter 2:9-10

I wear both skirts and pants in my daily life. In the summer I do occasionally wear shorts if they are knee length or longer, just like the length of my skirts.

For a period, after Mark and I were married, I felt convicted to wear skirts all the time - except for when I was at work in the jail as I received unwelcome attention when I wore them. I wore skirts almost exclusively for nearly 2 years outside of work.

Then, I realized that modesty was not about me wearing, or not wearing, a skirt. Modesty was in my demeanor, my attitude. I could be the most modestly dressed woman but if my heart was in the wrong place or if I was boastful about the way that I was dressing - I was missing the point.

Now, I wear both pants and skirts on a daily basis. The exception being that I always wear a skirt or dress to church services, funerals, and church events. I feel that is how I should be dressed when I enter the Lord's formal house.

Annabeth wears skirts and dresses 95% of the time. Because so many baby and children's pants seem to be very fitted we feel that putting a skirt or dress over them makes them much less revealing and much more modest.

Even more importantly than what's on the bottom, we are very careful with what we wear on our tops. For shirts, I start with one hand at my neck and the top of the shirt must meet the bottom of my hand. This means I have only a bit of my chest exposed when wearing shirts. I also be sure to bend over in the dressing room to ensure that the shirt does not gap and allow people a view down it when I bend down. I try to wear shirts that are not terribly fitted as my body, and its exact shape, is not meant to be shared with anyone but my husband. The same rules apply to Annabeth even though she is only 2. Her body belongs to her, the Lord, and eventually her husband - it is not meant to be shared with the world even though she is "just a baby."

I have found that if I have to wonder if something is okay or not - that usually means that it is too tight/short/or revealing. I often consult Mark and have him help me make the decision. While I want to honor God in how I dress, I also want to respect Mark's opinion and preferences.

We also wear mostly hand-me-downs or second hand clothing (with the exception of undergarments and swimwear) because we feel that the Lord does not wish us to spend large sums of money on keeping up with current fashions or certain labels.

This is how we dress. We dress this was because we believe that the Lord wishes us, all of us women AND men, to be clothed modesty. We pray that we are pleasing to our Lord.

Us girls - before church on 01.26.14

Linked Up To: Teach Me Tuesdays at Growing Home

Friday, January 24, 2014

Frugal Friday 23

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is what we did to save money/spend money wisely last week:

- Mark and I saw a Saturday afternoon showing of Hunger Games: Catching Fire. By going before 5 pm we were able to get the matinee price. Saved $6.50

- Before our movie we shopped at a Marshall's store. Mark went in begrudgingly but because it was date day, he went in. He ended up finding a new pair of New Balance tennis shoes for just $31.00! Saved: $44.00

- We enjoyed a FREE day at the Indianapolis Children's Museum thanks to MLK Jr. Community Day. Saved: $53.50

Annabeth and Mark making music in the Playscape Music Room 

Us girls on our "beach vacation" - playing in the sand tables

- We enjoyed a trip to The Commons free playground in Columbus. Great fun on a day when it was -15 degrees outside with the windchill! Brrr!!!

Total Saved: $104.00

What have you been doing to save money this week?
What frugal fun have you been having in the extreme cold?

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"

Monday, January 20, 2014

Busy Board and X-Rays

Mark had seen many ideas online for Homemade Busy Boards and over the weekend he decided to make one for Annabeth.

Yesterday he and Annabeth went to Lowe's and purchased the boards, locks and hooks, and a beautiful purple paint to make it pretty. Mark painted it in the afternoon and by the time Annabeth was in bed he was able to screw all of the "busy-ness" into the board so it would be ready for Annabeth this morning.

Annabeth's Completed Busy Board
Supplies needed: board, elements to work, and paint (optional) 
if you'd like an extra pop of color(s)

She woke up and saw it in the living room. Her reaction? "OH!"

Playing with her new Busy Board made by Daddy

After being out all day, we came home and as we pulled in the driveway she yelled "Play Busy Board!" She was so excited to get it back out to play. Within minutes of playing with it, she decided she needed to roll it across the floor. Then she decided she needed to carry it and unfortunately it fell on her right foot! Ouch! Her big toe immediately turned purple and her foot began to swell. She would not let us ice it and she would not stand on it. After a call to her doctor, we all decided it would be best to have an x-ray done just in case. We took her to St. Francis Immediate Care Center and within just 30 minutes they had done an x-ray and we knew that nothing was broken. The doctor there said to expect it to be purple for quite a while but that it should only really hurt or bother her for the next week or so.

Poor Little Bit!

Puffy Foot and Purple Toe :(  

"Foot. Hurt." 
Waiting for her x-ray results 

No broken bones!
Praise the Lord, the Great Physician! 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Dancing with my Miracle

Last night Annabeth turned on Mark's clock radio and began to dance.

She put her hands above her head and turned in circles laughing. She loves to "'pin! 'pin!" as she calls her spins.

I burst into tears. Moments like that amaze me. On October 5, 2011 at 8:55 am, after her heart stopped, Mark and I thought for a while we would never have moments like this. Dancing moments. Laughing moments. Sweet moments. In fact, we didn't think we would have any moments. For those long minutes we waited to hear from the NICU, we thought her life was over. We thought our memories would be our pregnancy and then a series of sad good-byes to our blue, gray, lifeless girl.

So, moments when we dance, moments when that same little girl is red cheeked with laughter and joy, I cry. I cry and cry and cry and praise the Lord for our Miracle Girl.

Annabeth said, "Oh no! Mama sad!" And as I cried too hard to reply Mark hugged us close and said, "No, Mama is happy. So happy."

And I am. I am happy. I am blessed. I am thankful each precious day for our precious girl.

To God be ALL the glory. Amen.

Doing her Beam Work at Dance Class. 

Frugal Friday 22

Happy Friday!

Here is what we did to save money/spend money wisely this week:

- We found a great organic, allergy free website over the holidays but the cost of shopping snacks seemed a bit crazy...until...they offered FREE SHIPPING and 15% off your order last weekend. We were able to purchase 4 organic dairy free, peanut free, and squash free snacks for $7.00. Saved: Shipping + 2.51

- I hosted a Junk Exchange last Saturday! We had a lot of fun and I am enjoying my new treasures: devotional books, gift tags and gift wrap, a pedometer, and a Vera Bradley makeup bag

- We did our Monday shopping at Big Lots. Our store has their diapers delivered on Sunday evening or Monday morning so if I go early I can sometimes find the big box for $5 less than I can get them for at Walmart with a coupon! I also stocked up on more "baby snacks." Saved: $30.25

- We went to Target just to browse and while looking around the Photo Lady came and found us. She said she had new props she needed to practice working with. We had a free photo session and got 2 free pages of prints. I did end up purchasing one additional discounted print. Here is a collage of some of the outtakes. Saved: $55.00

- We ate meals at home and enjoyed quiet family fun with Annabeth's toys and games and some loud fun splashing in the tub! :)

Extra Saved: $87.76

What have you been doing to save money this week?

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Junk Exchange

Last Saturday I hosted my 3rd Junk Exchange. It was an idea I originally saw in Real Simple and have enjoyed doing.

I thought it might be fun to share how I do it and what has worked for ours to be successful.

1. Pick a theme. It could be all books or all clothing or in our case, all junk. I always be sure give ideas on the invitation: books, cds, clothing, cookware/cookbooks, craft supplies, dvds, gardening, etc

2. Pick your guests based on your theme. If you do just clothing be sure everyone is around the same size or has at least a couple of other people around their size. If you invite an XS lady to an event with all XL ladies she won't have anyone to trade with. Same if you do a book only exchange, make sure everyone is an avid reader so they will have books to trade and will want to trade. Also, be sure to invite about twice as many people as you want to come - many will not be able to come.

3. Pick a date at least 2-3 weeks out and let your guests know. People will need time to clean out their houses!

4. Plan to serve snacks or a light meal. People are more likely to come and enjoy if you feed them!

5. Clear a large area in your home, we've always used our dining room in each house, and put out tables. It's like setting up for a garage sale, inside.

6. Enjoy swapping junk!

Our was last Saturday. We did an "All Junk" exchange and had ladies ages 20-50 something.

Here is what my dining room looked like once we got going:

 Swapping Junk! Look at those smiles!
Everyone is happy with free stuff!

Since we started around noon, I did a luncheon to accompany the exchange. We served 8 Can Taco Soup with chips and cheese dip. I set out a fruit plate and I made S'mores Bark and a Heath Bar Cake for dessert. My sweet friend Cindy made chocolate chip cookies as well!

What kinds of things did we exchange?
Books, CDs, Clothing, Cookbooks, DVDs, Kitchen Items, Purses, and even some Vera Bradley items!

What did I get?
Devotional books, gift wrap and gift tags, pedometer (I have been wanting one forever and have been too cheap to purchase one!), and a Vera Bradley makeup case in my favorite pattern (Kensington - which is retired and hard to find!!)

Even Annabeth had a little bag of goodies! 
She loved "shopping" our junk!

After everyone has left and hauled their boxes and bags home with them we donate the rest. Any baby or maternity items go to the Pregnancy Crisis Center. Books go to a library sale if the library is currently in need of them. The rest goes to Goodwill in the winter or in the summer I donate it to our church's garage sale. Mama and I took her entire SUV full to Goodwill last night. 

Junk Exchanges are such a fun way to clean out and get rid of things, to get free fun things, and to donate and bless others.

Linked up to: Teach Me Tuesdays @ Growing Home Blog

Friday, January 10, 2014

Frugal Friday 21

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I had a $10 reward from Kohl's so we purchased an Elmo Potty Training Book and a sweet picture frame that we will give as a gift. After the coupon we spent $4.59. Saved: $22.00

- We shopped the baby aisle at Big Lots and were SUPER excited to see that they had just gotten in a new shipment of push-up pouches baby food. The Plum Organics and Happy Tots were priced at $.50 (they run about $1.79 at Walmart and Target) and the Earth's Best Organic pouches were just $.33 (they run about $1.59 at other stores) We purchased 20 pouches and saved $25.50!

- Shutterfly had 101 Free Prints last weekend. I ordered my 101 free AND saved 20% on the rest of my order. I was able to print November and December pictures for under $20. Saved: $14.35

- We have gone through 250 address labels since we moved into the new house - I send A LOT of mail! I signed up as a new customer through Vista Print and was able to get 25% off my order of new labels. Saved: $2.51

- I ordered Annabeth's Valentine's Day cards. I combined a $20 off offer + 20% off cards to save: $26.62

- Wednesday night we had an "escape from the house for the sake of our sanity" dinner at our favorite mexican restaurant. We had a coupon for free cheese dip! Saved: $3.00

Total Saved: $93.98!!!

What have you been doing to save money this week? Any frugal snow day ideas?

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Blizzard 2014

Yes, it's true! We had a blizzard here!

Last week we received about 6 inches of snow on Thursday. Friday and Saturday were clear. Sunday we received another 5ish inches of snow and then temperatures fell overnight making it -10 on Monday! That is VERY cold for here! Due the extremely cold temperatures and the fact that all of that snow turned into ice the public schools were out Monday - Wednesday and are finally going back today on a 2 hour delay. We, of course, have been back to school since Monday since we do it in our craft room in our jammies!

Here is what we did during the big snow:

Saturday: No snow yet so we took advantage of the clear, but cold!, weather. We drove up to Greenwood to take our cardboard recycling. Mark had training so Annabeth and I enjoyed lunch at Einstein Bros' Bagels. We also went to Target and shopped one of her Christmas giftcards. We were able to find a toy that she really liked and some more coloring supplies. Everyone else in line had loads of groceries and we had a few toys! :)

Sunday: The snow started around 8 am. Mark was off for the day and became very worried that we were not going to get the snow he was hoping for. It was so warm (33 degrees) that it was rain for most of the day. Mark was stir crazy by noon and went out to the grocery for some snack food. The snow really began to fall in the afternoon and Annabeth and Mark both enjoyed watching it out the window.

Watching the snow fall out one of our living room windows

Monday: We woke up to beautiful snow drifts and -10 degree weather. Our county was on a travel restriction (meaning if you were caught driving (unless it was an emergency) it was a $120 ticket) with courts, government offices, and schools closed. Mark was one of the few who did have to go to work. He got up to find the locks on his van so frozen that he could not get in. He drove the family car to work. Annabeth and I got back into the swing of homeschool and baked cookies. Monday evening Mark cooked a pork loin and we enjoyed a fancy weeknight dinner. Mark spent 90 minutes outside getting into his van and running the engine to help the battery. He also tried to dig the van out of the snow but the snow had become ice. It proved to be an impossible task in the dark, -20 degree night.

Monday morning snow drifts

Tuesday: I think the high was around -5. Courts and government offices went on two hour delays and schools were closed completely. Mark tried again in the early morning to get his van out. Again, the ice was not budging. He went to work in the family car and another detective brought his SUV over to pull the van out of the ice. Annabeth enjoyed watching them from the warmth of inside the front door. No luck with that. Eventually a tow truck came to get Mark's van out. Annabeth loved all of the excitement out front and it helped to pass the day!

Wednesday: The high was in the 20's! A heat wave! Mark got the van started just fine and was able to take it to work. Annabeth woke up pretty grumpy and generally tired of being at home. Our third day back at school was a rough one. Just as we finished morning lesson I heard the washer beeping - something it is not supposed to do. I went in to find our sheets sitting in half a washer full of water. Ugh! Fortunately, this happened earlier this fall and the technician who came out to fix it showed me how to do it ourselves. Mark came home on lunch and took the front off the washer. We made a huge mess with all of the water which he cleaned up while I cooked lunch. Annabeth was screaming "Hungy! Hungy! Hungy, Mama! Macaroni and Cheese" while Mark yelled "Bring more pans!!" Once they sat down to lunch, I cried in the kitchen! It was just too much for one week! I felt like a caged animal! Thank goodness Mark is so kind and was very patient with me. In the end, our quick fix to the washer didn't do the trick so I had to call a repairman! Thankfully this time I found someone who could come in the first 24 hours after I called! Praise the Lord! Mark also called around 3 and said, "Think of where you would like to go to dinner tonight. It seems like we all need to get out." We drove to the closest restaurant by our house, which is our favorite Mexican place. It was lovely to get out for an hour!

Today we are back to our normal Thursday routine: library class, grocery, and then dance class tonight. I am so thankful we also have the washer repairman coming today.

I think I am finished with the snow for a while...

What did you do during the blizzard?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Back to School: What We Learned on Holiday

Despite the blizzard that hit our area over the weekend and the fact that it is -10 degrees today we are back to school! The joy of homeschooling! :)

Annabeth, like any 2 year old, did a great deal of learning over the holidays.

Here are some new skills and words from the past 2 weeks:

- Annabeth learned who Santa Claus (or "HoHo" as our families call him) is and about his reindeer and gift giving. She has mentioned often "HoHo Came. Presents." We hope that she also retained the near constant reminders that Santa is about the Spirit of Giving.

Kuhn Family Tradition of pictures with this Santa poster.

- Annabeth learned to sing "Jingle Bells" and does so daily with her new bell from her Amazing Aunt Katie.

- Thanks to her new found love of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse she has learned to sing and dance the entire "Hot Dog" song.

- Annabeth has been parroting our words and phrases much more. We have heard her saying the following new words: Alright!, Big Lots, Kroger, Macaroni and Cheese, Okay!, Target, and many others.

- We have really been working on counting and she seems to be getting closer to counting 1-5 all by herself and in the correct order. She loves to say "six" and "seven" so those will come quickly we hope.
*We realized after we had done it that we made the counting a bit difficult as we were teaching "1-2-3" but also counting down for other things like "3-2-1 Jump!" We think that is why so often she says "'2-3-2-3" We've been working on just counting up for now*

- Annabeth has mastered, on her own, her right from her left. When asked she can point and say it correctly about 99.9% of the time! We had not even been working on it but realized yesterday she just knows it.

- As it was Christmas, we told daily the story of Jesus' Birth and also His life. We worked hard to reiterate that this wonderful season is about Him. We also covered His death on the cross, the resurrection of His body, and the Life Everlasting. She now points to and talks about the cross and has learned to thank God for His most precious Gift each time she sees the cross.

Oh, the joy of learning! We are always, always learning here!

Toddler Fruit Cookies

As we have recently discovered Annabeth's peanut allergy, I have been searching the internet for peanut-free snacks that I can make at home. So many crunchy and sweet snacks at the store have nuts! I discovered this one on Pinterest over the weekend and since I had everything on hand we whipped up a modified batch on Monday. I put just a few chocolate chips instead of the full 1/3 cup and subbed soy milk for dairy milk for Annabeth and Mark's sake.

Toddler Fruit Cookies
(Dairy, Egg, and Peanut Free)

3 ripe bananas
2 cups, uncooked quick-cooking oats
1/3 cup applesauce
1/3 cup raisins or craisins
1/3 cup chocolate chips (optional, omit to make dairy free)
1/4 cup skim milk (we used low-fat soy milk to avoid the dairy)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. brown sugar

1. Mash the three bananas in a large bowl.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir.
3. Let sit for 5 minutes to moisten the oats.

4. Put onto cookie sheets and bake 15 minutes at 350.

Hot out of the oven!

I thought these were very quick and easy to throw together. I like that they are not filled with flour or sugar AND that they have so many kinds of fruit hidden inside!

Annabeth loved them! 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Frugal Friday 20

Happy Frugal Friday AND Happy New Year!

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

- Last Friday we headed up to Greenwood for lunch with family and it just so happened to be in the same shopping complex as one of my favorite consignment stores - Growing Spurts. I stopped in hoping Christmas items would be on sale and they were 75% off! I was able to get Annabeth TWO nice, winter dresses for next December for $3.25!!
*I shop ahead for each upcoming holiday at clearance sales. So far Annabeth has had more than 10 Christmas outfits (over her three Christmas seasons) and I have spent less $20 on all of them!*

- Mark brought home four bags of hand-me-downs from a family at work. As most were 3T we have been really blessed with a full winter and summer wardrobe of pants/shorts/skirts for Annabeth. They also sent lots of shoes in the next size and Winnie the Pooh books which Annabeth loves. We kept some of the clothes but also passed the 5T and larger items to our nieces who are growing into that size. We also split the books into three groups based on content and age level - we kept one set, gave one set to our nieces and nephew, and took the rest to my best friend's son. We feel so blessed to have received so much and even more blessed that we are able to give as well.

Annabeth playing dress up from the hand-me-down bags.
She loves her new tennis shoes and new ski hat. 
The fun earrings were a Christmas gift and the zebra outfit is a hand-me-down from her cousins. 

- I spent an afternoon tagging spring and summer items for the Here We Grow Again - Indy South Spring 2014 Sale. I have 50 tags made already and that was my goal for the whole sale!

- Mark ran to the grocery and by combining sales and coupons saved 22% off our total bill. This included a really nice toothbrush for $1.25 and his deodorant for just $.63!

- I snagged an Amazon giftcard on Swagbucks. We want to purchase Season 4 of "Downton Abbey" later this month and look forward to saving at least $5!

What have you been doing to save money? Have you been earning free stuff on Swagbucks or another site? I'd love to hear about it!

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Book and Homeschool Organization 2014

One of my Homeschool New Year's Resolutions is to be better organized in two specific areas: Annabeth's books and Homeschool Supplies. 

We have a lot of family and friends that are teachers so Annabeth has received a lot of books. I have tried to keep them cleaned out and have passed on books as we outgrow them. I also have made a point to get rid of books that got destroyed during the chewing and drool stage. In spite of that, we have a ton of books and they were in the toy box, the book box, and a huge green tote.

Just some of our books, completely disorganized.  

I went out and bought a new white bookshelf for under $25 at Walmart. It matches the one in our craft/homeschool. room so eventually they will look nice as a set if/when we move this shelf into the craft/homeschool room at some point. Mark put it together and Annabeth and I got her books sorted and put away.

 I think this looks much nicer!
Annabeth also has a little rocker by her bookshelf so she can get books out to read in comfort.

We have also been truly blessed with a great deal of classroom hand-me-downs and I have been purchasing flashcards and workbooks at our Dollar Tree store using giftcards (yes, I even use coupons and giftcards at Dollar Tree). In short, we have a ton of supplies and I had just been keeping them in our craft/homeschool room, Annabeth's closet, and my closet and I couldn't find anything! On my Walmart trip for the bookshelf, I also went to the plastic storage aisle and found an inexpensive set of drawers (less than $15) that will work for our preschool years and perhaps beyond. 

I brought them home and had fun getting everything organized, labeled, and decorating with fun Little Red Riding Hood scrapbook paper. I think it looks much nicer than being all over the house and kind of cute with the fun paper.

I feel like a real teacher! I have my own filing cabinet now!

I purchased this paper in Brown Co. last summer and have been
waiting to use it for something fun. I love the cute wolf.

Little Red Riding Hood and Granny are pretty cute too.

It feels good to be finally organized! 

Annabeth's Academy returns to class January 6! 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

We had a great New Year's Eve with Mark's family - his parents, little brother, and his fiance. We had chips and three kinds of dip, fruit, and Pinterest inspired desserts.

Cookies and Cream Cookies AND S'mores Bark

We enjoyed rounds of "The Oldyweds Game" as well as Scrabble. Luke and Cassidy stayed the night with us and woke up in the new year with Annabeth singing to them and jumping on their beds.

Annabeth rang in the New Year (well until 8 pm when she went to bed) in style thanks to a Pretty Pipsqueak designed outfit:

 Showing off her HUGE hairbow (recycled from her birthday outfit)

"Happy New Year!"

New Year's Resolutions 2014:

Mark and Amy:
To have one Annabeth-Free Date Night a month. We realized we had just 4 of these in all of 2013 and decided to aim for more intentional couple time this new year.

We are planning to read the Bible in a year. I received a Year Bible from Mark's parents for Christmas and we are looking forward to intentional couple, spiritual time.

My first goal as the teacher is to be more organized. I have supplies and books in many different totes and would like to get them all in one place and well labeled.
My goal for Annabeth is that by the end of the spring semester that she will be able to read and sound out all 26 letters (currently she has A-F and M).
I also hope to have her able to count 1-10 (currently it sounds like "2-3-2-3-4-6).

We pray that all that all of you had a blessed 2013 and that even in time of trials you saw the Lord's presence in your life. We pray that your 2014 will be filled with love, joy, and peace and the confidence in the future that comes only from our Lord.

Happy New Year!