Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2014

Christmas Eve

This year, to relieve some holiday stress from Mark's Grandpa Ed who usually hosts, we decided to host Mark's Family Christmas Eve. We did a lunch at 1 o'clock. We enjoyed a wonderful time visiting with FOUR generations of his family!

The youngest generation.
Liam, Kam, Daniel, Brayden, Kati, Annabeth, Elli, and Nate 

Four Generations!
Just missing two from Mark's generation 

Getting ready to open her presents.
This sweet homemade dress reminded me of my Grandma Chico
who always made us cute things! This one I found at Goodwill.

After everyone left, Mark and I cleaned the house while Annabeth played with her new toys. Then, for the first time, we were in town at the right time to attend Christmas Eve service at our own church. It was beautiful and so special to share with our friends Miss Teri as well as Chris and Cindy.

Christmas Day

Annabeth woke up very afraid that Santa was still in the house and spent the early part of the morning hiding in our room. She was not too sure about Santa and when people at church had told her he would be coming to her house she was very afraid. Mark made sure Santa was gone and that the living room was safe and she finally agreed to check out her presents. 

When it comes to buying her gifts. We stick to the same budget for Christmas and Birthday. It is a budget that in lean years is completely do-able and in other years is a good way for us to keep it reasonable. We choose to get her art supplies, books, clothes, and just one or two toys. This year her favorite gifts seemed to be her new Elsa doll and her Brave book. 

So happy with her light-up, singing Elsa doll and Olaf toy. 

Special new ornaments.
Her Big Sister one, our "Baby makes 4" one, and #2's penguin ornament

After a relaxing morning playing with her new things, we headed to Mark's parents. We enjoyed opening gifts; the kids go first and then we send them to the basement to play while the adults open. Afterwards we enjoyed corned beef and cabbage since we won't all be together New Year's to eat it then. 

Cute Christmas Cousins.
 Elisabeth, Annabeth, Katherine, and Nathanael

My sister-in-law Jenn and me in our matching jackets.
We said we're like Kati and Elli since they often wear pink (K)
and purple (E) for people to tell them apart! :)

We had such a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas. We were so happy to share those days with each other and with Mark's side of the family. We have so much fun with them and we share so much love!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Frugal Friday 71

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- During early December, we picked up mail and checked on the house of friends. This past week, they treated Annabeth and me to pizza lunch as a thank you. 

- Instead of buying/renting Christmas books and movies, we borrowed them from the library all month. We were able to enjoy 40+ books and 10 movies absolutely free!

- Mark worked his full-time job plus 18 hours at his part time security job. Saving for #2! :)

- Mark volunteered for "Shop with a Cop" on Saturday morning. He loves doing this event each year.

- Mark's parents treated all of us off work and in town (sorry PawPaw and Mark who missed the fun) to a mall day. The four kids were each able to pick and make a Build-A-Bear and all of us adults got Starbucks. Thank you!

Elisabeth, Annabeth, Katherine, and Nathanael
SO happy at Build-A-Bear and yes, they hold hands on their own!

- We hosted Mark's family (30+ people) for Christmas Eve lunch. We had seats for 18 adults and 2 children but that was not enough. Our friends the Gomez family let us borrow kid chairs and the Campbell family lent us three tables with chairs. It was so nice to have things to borrow, wash, and return instead of having to buy more tables and chairs. Thank you all!

- I purchased take-out containers and we boxed up and sent home leftovers after lunch. My Grandma Chico always did this and it worked so well because people have to take food then!

- Mark's brothers and their families went to visit Great Grandpa Bob at the nursing home. They took one of the pies that no one had opened to the nurses to share there.

- We made homemade bread to take the Christmas at Mark's parents' house. We also took some cookies.

We had a wonderful Christmas and pray that you all did as well!

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; 
he is the Messiah, the Lord."
Luke 2:11

Merry Christmas!
The Riley Four

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Our Gingerbread House

Last week, I was finally feeling up to a trip to the store. As we walked in, Annabeth announced "It is SO nice to be out of our house!" Then she spotted some gingerbread houses and asked to get one. My mama guilt kicked in, as I've been too sick most days to go anywhere or do anything very much fun, so I agreed.

We ended up putting it together on Thursday evening with Mark. He built and decorated most of the house. I gave Annabeth two little gingerbread men and a little tree to decorate. I knew she would enjoy having her own project and that Mark and I would enjoy having the house to ourselves to decorate.

 Our little Riley House by Daddy and Mama

Things Annabeth will sit still for:
1. Candy
2. Activities she enjoys
3. Building anything 

When in doubt, stack your candy higher.  

She was completely focused on this project for over an hour!

I have found myself being very into Christmas season activities this year. Part of me thinks it is because at age three, Annabeth is finally into most activities and is actually enjoying and remembering them. Another part of me knows that this will be the last "easy" year for a while because when #2 comes we will start all over again with the baby years.

We are enjoying the countdown to Jesus' Birthday and we are looking forward to celebrating Him this season. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Frugal Friday 70

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely:

- We used a giftcard to purchase three ornaments that we will give as gifts.

- Mark did our grocery shopping for Christmas Eve. We are hosting his family and will have about forty people in. He saved 25% off our grocery bill by combining coupons and store sales!

- Annabeth and I enjoyed a free Living Nativity service and event at St. Luke's UMC.

- Annabeth received a giftcard to Build A Bear for being in a wedding in September. We took her Sunday to make her first animal there. She chose an orange cat and named it "Owen." We only paid the tax on the gift.

She had so much fun and she really loves her new cat.
Thank you to Chris and Cindy for this gift!

- We ate dinner out Sunday at the mall. Annabeth and I each took home enough leftovers that we had them for lunch on Monday.

- On the way home from the mall, Annabeth peed in her carseat and I was feeling sick so we stopped at Dunkin' Donuts (the first place to stop). Once we came out of the bathroom, me having vomited and Annabeth with wet pants, the nice lady at the counter gave us our choice of what we wanted! She said, "Oh honey, I've been there. Just pick what you want."

- I sorted through our sale tote and sent 13 items of Annabeth's to ThredUP. I didn't have a lot of items for winter but I thought this would be my test run on selling children's clothing with them. It is certainly easier and faster than tagging for consignment sales. I will keep you all posted on how it goes.

- Annabeth and I went to a free reindeer show at the library. It ended up being much more than I expected as the show was more than an hour long with many animals - a bearded dragon, dove, ferret, frog, and even a dog with matching storybook. At the end the animal guy brought in the reindeer and we were able to pet her and make our picture. Annabeth was bored during the show and terrified of the reindeer. I loved it.

Jingle John, Noel the Reindeer, Terrified Annabeth, #2, and me

We had a good week, spending most of it at home relaxing. We hope you have also found time to slow down and enjoy the beauty of the season.

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference" 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"Ugh, I dream like a mom!"

Last night, Mark was watching a thriller, spy type movie where a man was running and hiding from bad guys. I was checking out baby and homeschool stuff on pinterest so I was not really watching the movie but did catch bits and pieces.

Once I fell asleep, I dreamed that Annabeth and I were in a big glass house in the woods and we were surrounded by bad guys. Through a chain of events that would never happen in real life, for example I have no karate skills, we managed to capture two bad guys. Annabeth helped me tie up the unconscious men with Hello Kitty clothing. Then I decided that before the men woke up we would need to get them in the car to take them to the police. But as we went to leave the house I realized the doors weren't locked so I ran around locking about 15 doors all over the house. Then Annabeth had toys all over the floor so naturally we had to pick up the toys before we left. Then I noticed dishes in the sink. After making sure the bad guys were still knocked out, I proceeded to do the dishes before we left.

Around that point I woke up, startled because the beginning of the dream had been pretty scary. My second thought, "Ugh, I dream like a mom! Who else locks doors, picks up, and does the dishes before turning in bad guys?"

Sunday, December 14, 2014

#2 Questions Answered

I did a Q and A when we announced Annabeth's pregnancy on the blog so I thought I should do the same for #2.

  • When did you find out? October 24, 2014
  • When are you due? June 29, 2015
  • Why keep it a secret so long? As with Annabeth, we wanted to be sure that we had heard the heartbeat and that we were through the first 12 weeks before sharing our joy.
  • How has Amy been feeling? Pretty sick. If you haven't seen me since before Halloween now you know why! We have been hiding at home! Thankfully, I have not been as sick as I was with Annabeth. Praise the Lord!
  • How has Mark been feeling? Busy! He has been doing an amazing job taking care of us girls and has been doing all of the grocery shopping on top of everything else! 
  • Have you gained any weight? No. I am down 10 lbs. Which is 2 less than this point with Annabeth.
  • Have you had an ultrasound? No. We will not have our first ultrasound until around 20 weeks for the body scan and gender check. We did hear the heartbeat on December 12 and it was an amazing 155! 
  • Any fertility treatments this time? No. We were honestly shocked at how easy it all has been this time. We just kind of said, "Okay, Annabeth is almost three. It's now or never. Let's let God decide." And apparently His answer is "now."
  • What does Annabeth think? She seems to be very excited. She says she wants a brother although she is only willing to share her toys if it is a sister. She also says that our boy name will be the name boy or girl. She especially enjoyed buying #2 his or her first Christmas ornament and selected a toy for him or her as well. 
Their first sibling shirts.
Annabeth's "Every Sheriff needs a Deputy" shirt and #2's sheriff onesie. 

We are so excited and so shocked that the Lord has seen fit to bless us again. We are praying for a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Pray with us? We would appreciate it ever so much. 
Love, The Riley FOUR!

#2 is due in June!

We are pleased to announce with joy this Joy Sunday of Advent that we are expecting #2!

Annabeth with her new Big Sister ornament
and her Sheriff Big Sister shirt.

We thank and praise the Lord for seeing fit to bless our family again! Amen. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Living Nativity

I spent a day researching fun Christmas activities in our area and my sweet friend Andrea lead me to a list of Living Nativities. Today Annabeth and I drove up to the north side and enjoyed St. Luke UMC's Living Nativity.

It was a beautiful service with sing-along carols, real animals, and lots of children involved in the telling of the story. Annabeth was, shockingly, attentive for the 45 minute service. The church also had set up a Town of Bethlehem and we were able to see a potter, make our own clay ornament, grind spices, watch a woodworker, and more. We were also able to visit with the animals after the service. Annabeth loved it and so did I!

Making her own ornament 

We both especially loved seeing the camels.
They were so soft and this one was such a ham - 
he kept smiling and posing for pictures.

I was so thankful for this was to experience the REAL meaning of Christmas and to help Annabeth enjoy more than presents or Santa. Praise be to God!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Frugal Friday 69

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I trimmed my hair at home. I colored it at home a few weeks ago as well.

- Sunday Mark was getting ready and noticed his belt has become very worn. He and Annabeth had this conversation which made me a proud frugal mama:
Mark: "Oh, my belt is getting very worn. I wish I had thought to ask for a new one for Christmas."
Annabeth: "Daddy, you have one. You don't need another one. You just glue it. 'At will fix it."
That's right Annabeth! Use it until it is completely worn out and then glue it back together some more!

- We hand delivered as many Christmas cards as we could. We saved $15 in postage.

- I made $25.62 on ThredUp and was able to purchase two new shirts with the credit. I still have a little over $3 credit in my account for a future purchase with them.

- I took Annabeth to a FREE Christmas themed storytime at the library where Miss Heather dressed as Mrs. Claus and read the stories and did the craft.

Mrs. Claus, Annabeth, and her friend Julia

- We reached another monthly milestone through Pampers Rewards program. We were able to choose a free prize and I choose to add 200 free points to our account. I love free stuff!

- We shopped a great sale at Walgreens. They had a Buy 2 Toys, Get 2 Toys Free sale. We purchased two toys that we will give as Christmas gifts as well as two toys that we will give as gifts in January and February.

- I finished wrapping all of our Christmas gifts. I used only wrapping paper that we had on hand. Our gifts will not all match under the tree but they are colorful and wrapped!

We are enjoying turning the days on our Advent Calendar as we look forward to celebrating our Savior's Birthday!

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"

Monday, December 8, 2014

ThredUp Review

A few weeks ago, while reading blogs, I found a Mama who uses ThredUp to shop for her children's clothing. She is a mama of 8 and I love reading her advice on how to save money on kids' stuff. I was curious about ThredUp but did not end up looking at their website that day. Then, later in the week, I received a paper coupon for 30% off an order from ThredUp. That sparked my curiosity further and I took a look.

What is ThredUp?

It is an online store for women and kids clothing and accessories. It purchases high quality new and used items from real people, pays them money, and then sells them on the site. You can both buy and sell with them.

I really liked the high quality items and low prices that I saw on the site so I ordered my first "Clean Out Bag." The bag was shipped to me for free, I filled it up, and dropped it off at my local post office with free shipping back to the company. I sent 6 tops and 3 dresses. Then I waited to make money!!

I mailed my bag out on November 20. I received an e-mail on December 2 confirming that they had received it. I am assuming the delay in shipping had to do with the Thanksgiving holiday in the middle.

Within 7 days they had sorted through my items and gave me $25.62 for 8 items!

I chose to receive my payment as store credit (they can also credit your PayPal account) and ordered two new shirts using store credit for the purchase and shipping. I still have $3.61 in my account to spend on something else. I am very frustrated though because I got too excited and forgot to use my 30% off coupon! Ah! How could I have done that?!

How did I decide what to sell?

ThredUp made it SO easy for me to know what they were buying and about how much I would be paid for my items. They have an easy to use Clothing Calculator where you can enter your item such as "GAP - Shirt" and they will tell you a range of how much they will pay or that they do not accept that brand. This saved me the time and effort of sending items that they do not purchase.

I was so excited to find a place to sell some nice shirts and dresses that I have not worn in years but refused to sell for $1 at a garage sale. It felt good to make more money per item.

Next up?

I ordered another Clean Out Bag and plan to go through the sale tote items of Annabeth's. The consignment sale I do has moved their spring sale from the first weekend in April to the end of May. I hope to make some extra money now with her items.

Are you curious now?
Please use my link to check it out (it won't cost you any extra but it can help me make a bit of money if you shop through me!) 

**I was not asked nor compensated, beyond the sale of my clothing, for this review. 
This review contains my own views and opinions** 

Christmas Weekend #1

We enjoyed our first Christmas weekend this past weekend.

On Saturday, we attended our fourth year of Breakfast with Jesus and Santa at our church. Each year, we meet Mark's parents there for a pancake breakfast, visiting with Santa, and admiring Baby Jesus and family. It is a beautiful event put on by our church and all of the money raised goes towards local missions. We love this special tradition with Nana and PawPaw.

Mickey Mouse Pancakes! 

Our Family. 

Annabeth's favorite part was the donkey in the Nativity Scene. 

 Sunday we made the drive to the Louisville area to have Christmas with the Eblings. Rose and I have been best friends since meeting at Camp Lakeview in high school and we have been sharing a special Christmas celebration ever since. It has become increasingly more fun as we have added the kids. Their son SJ is 20 months and our sweet, sweet Godson who we love to spoil! Annabeth has always loved spending time with her Auntie Rose and "helping" Uncle Sean around the house.

Annabeth giving SJ some love.
Last Christmas we have pictures of him hugging her 
and her crying. This year she just loves him to pieces!

Best Friends with our kids who we pray will always be Best Friends. 

We enjoyed spending the weekend with family and are looking forward to getting together with more loved ones in the weeks to come. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Frugal Friday 68

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- We did NOT Black Friday shop at the stores. After working retail, I realize how few "deals" are really deals. We have decided that unless one year we need an appliance or large item that is truly discounted on Black Friday we will not go out.

- We did make one Black Friday purchase online. After shopping photo card deals at Shutterfly, Vistaprint, and Walmart and looking at my coupons, I found that the best deal was still to use Sam's Club. Thanksgiving weekend they have 100 cards for $15 and they are ready same day. We don't have a membership but Mark's parents let us borrow theirs. Kristi even went and picked up the cards for us. Thank you!

- I was not planning on doing any Cyber Monday shopping but MudPie was running an AMAZING sale! I was able to save $80+ on a baby gift by combining website sales + a $5 off coupon + FREE shipping! Little Miss Aubree Ellen Love is going to be so stylish! :)

- Last year, our friends the Stairs gave us some plastic play food for Annabeth to use in her shopping cart. She received cloth and wooden food for her birthday this year so we were going to return it. Sarah said they didn't want the food back and just days later a homeschool friend asked where she could get a good deal on play good for her boys. I said, "My house! You can have all of our plastic food. Friends shared it with us so we'll share it with you." We cleaned out and her boys have new toys. We love to share!

- We had some really great coupons this week for the grocery. We got a free loaf of really fancy bread and also had two $2 off an order coupons. We made two different transactions so we could save the $4 in one trip. Saved: $8.99

- I made five homemade ornaments. I spent $10 on all the supplies and think they turned out very well. I will do a post after we give them at Christmas.

- I mended Annabeth's house slippers (they are dragons whose ears often get ripped off) as well as a dress that we will be handing down to her cousin Ava. We try to use everything as long as we can and to try to keep it in the best condition that we can. Also, I love monogrammed items and have been trying to find ones with "A" which we can pass to Ava Rae.

- Annabeth and I attended a Frozen party at our library on Thursday evening. They had lots of special activities, a photobooth, and then they showed the movie. We met up with some friends there which Annabeth really enjoyed. We love FREE fun!

Olaf Photo Booth and Mask - So cute!

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"