Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Resolutions 2015 and 2016

Every year I attempt to make New Year's Resolutions. As a list-maker, I really like to have written down goals to achieve.

My 2015 resolution was to pray for and find little ways to bless a family from our church each month. I am thankful for this family and their encouragement in our lives. I hope that they found joy in our (annonymously sent) gifts each month.

My 2016 Resolutions:

Challenge:
- Make 1-to-2 new recipes from Pinterest or cookbooks each week.

Financial:
- Save enough money for my 30th Birthday Vacation.
We will be going in February 2017 and I would love to have real, stress and worry free vacation to the beach.

Relationship:
- Mark and I would like to revisit our 2014 resolution (which we did succeed 10 months) of having a date night each month. We really found a lot of comfort in having a night out or a purposeful dinner in each month and would both like to do it again.

I am so thankful for the many blessings of 2015 - watching Annabeth grow more and more through our homeschool studies, continued developing relationships with friends and neighbors, the arrival and first six months of Owen's life, and lots of sweet time spent at home with just the four of us.

I am thankful to end this year because we have had a year with some very sad points as well - a very serious illness in my Momaw in late summer (praise the Lord she is doing much better now), the passing of Mark's Grandpa Ed in September and Great-Grandpa Bob in November, as well as some struggles and growing pains in our relationships with our families.

We look forward to seeing what the Lord has in store for us in 2016.

Friday, December 25, 2015

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!
Love,
The Rileys

A sweet moment from our Christmas at home last Saturday the 19th.
Annabeth's 5th and Owen's 1st Christmas. 
Thank you God for these sweet babies and for the One who came for us all. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Frugal Friday 122

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I did our end of the semester clean out of the school room. I filled a tote of paper for recycling and Annabeth chose to get rid of 12 books she is finished reading. We will donate the books that are still in good shape and recycle any that have been chewed or colored on.

- Saturday night we redeemed a FREE pizza from Papa John's Rewards for Nana and PawPaw to enjoy with Annabeth as a thank you for their babysitting. Mark and I enjoyed a few hours out at his work Christmas party.

- All are still sick we stayed home much of the week and saved a lot of money on gas and outings.

- Mark worked one night at his part time job and most of the day Sunday as overtime. He received his Christmas gift from his part time job - a $10 grocery gift card.

- We gave coffee shop gift cards to Annabeth's dance and gymnastics teachers. We really love her dance school and are so thankful for all that she is taught there. I choose to get gift cards at Christmas as at the recital as a thank you. I think they are probably appreciated by the teachers more than a coffee mug or trinket item.

- We hit a milestone with Pampers Rewards. I chose to get 25 FREE 4x6 photo cards and FREE shipping from Shutterfly. We will use this code to make the kids' Valentines for free!

- Our public library has undergone renovation the past few weeks. It opened again last Friday and we have enjoyed two days of play with all of the new puzzles and toys. Annabeth enjoyed exploring on her own and also playing with friends.

- I cleaned out a tote in the garage and was shocked to find items leftover from a garage sale 2.5 years ago. I put everything in two big boxes and took them to Goodwill.

- In the tote I cleaned out, I found two hand-print keepsake kits. We kept those and Annabeth made a hand-print ornament and Owen made a footprint ornament for our tree.

- Mark has made adjustments to his retirement fund so that starting in January he will be adding more from each paycheck into retirement. As we plan on me being home for quite a few years to come, we are unable to add to my Roth IRA without me working.

- We also came up with a simple game plan to add more money each month to the principal on our mortgage payment. We know that every little bit helps!

- I made homemade salted caramels twice this week. I needed to use up some whipping cream and made them the first time as a test run. They were pretty good so Mark requested I make them for the scout Christmas party as well.

Mr. O loves to watch me run around in the kitchen.
He also loves chewing on absolutely everything. 
*Disclaimer: I did not use this slobber spoon to stir the caramels*

We had another long, sick week at home. Mark is back at 100% and Annabeth and Owen seem to be running at about 90% but we think I had it early last week, got a bit better, and then have it again! I am guessing being up and down all night and nursing is making me slower to recover than usual. Hoping to really feel better by tomorrow morning as we are celebrating Christmas at our house!

I will be taking a break as next week's Friday is Christmas Day.
I will see you all back for more Frugal Friday Fun on New Year's Day! :)

Until then, Happy Savings to All!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

First Post-Owen's-Arrival Date

Last night was our first date out after Owen.

Yes, Owen is over 6 months old and we are just doing this.

It has been FAR too long!

Our last date was our anniversary (May 23) and we have been looking forward to making time for a date again. Mark's work Christmas party was last night and thus date night.


For the first time in more than six months we were out. Alone. Empty Carseats. Quiet backseat. Not Daddy and Mama but Mark and Amy.

We had an actual conversation. We held hands. We finished sentences. We talked to real grown-ups. We ate an uninterrupted meal. And then we went home to our babies.

We stayed up most of the night taking care of sick babies. Me with a coughing Owen and Mark with a coughing and hive covered Annabeth. Back to being Daddy and Mama.

But our two hours out was enough to remind me of some very important things.

Since we have not been out alone, I have been seeing Mark 99% as "Daddy" too. I think of him as someone to help and support in raising our children. I love cleaning up dinner together. I love watching him hold Owen and play with Annabeth. I love going to breakfast as a family. I love visiting the kids' grandparents together. I love all going to the grocery store or the library. But last night reminded me that I also love Mark, my husband Mark.

Mark is so good and kind. He is polite to everyone. He greets everyone like they are his friend. He gives me confidence in a room full of people. He always does the right thing. Last night, a drink was spilled across the floor at the party. The man who spilled it wiped it up some, three or four tables of people watched him, but there was drink left on the floor. Mark went and got towels and cleaned up the rest. It wasn't his mess and yet he did it. He did it quietly and confidently. He didn't ask anyone to notice, he didn't embarrass the man who spilled it, and he didn't make a scene. He just did the right thing.

I love, that I love a man who is so good. I love that he is Daddy to our kids and husband to me.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Frugal Friday 121

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- We enjoyed treating Mark's parents to Breakfast with Jesus and Santa at our church. We love sharing this special tradition with them each year.


- Due to sick kids, we stayed home most days. If we don't go out, we don't spend money.

- Mark did the weekly shopping trip and spent just $30 for the week. We also got back $.11 with Walmart Savings Catcher.

- Annabeth is a student of the month at dance school and received a $15 gift certificate. We will use it to help pay for her costumes in January.

- We finished wrapping for Christmas. All paper and bags were reused from years past.

- In order to get the Christmas giftwrap tote back in my closet, I needed to do some cleaning out. I parted way with three skirts, a shirt, and a pair of shoes from my bottom-of-the-closet-I-might-wear-this-someday pile. They will be donated.

- We shipped a box of 12 months clothes to a friend's baby. Mr. O is just outgrowing them and her son is just growing into them. We love hand-me-downs!

Frugal Fails:
(Unfortunately we had quite a few of these this week)

- Last Friday, we drove to do Christmas with my best friend. After the 90 minute drive, Annabeth got out of the car and got sick all over her and me. Poor girl - carsickness can still get the best of her even with medicine. I did not have any extra clothes for us girls and ran to the store to buy new, clean ones. Annabeth was very happy to have a new My Little Pony shirt but I was not happy to have to make this unplanned purchase. Spent: $30

- Monday morning Owen woke up really hot and screaming. He had been fussy all weekend and we know a tooth is coming up but the big change in his personality told me it was probably an ear infection. I called our doctors office who didn't have openings until Wednesday so the kids and I ended up at Immediate Care. After a three hour wait, it was a confirmed ear infection. A sick visit at our doctor's is roughly $100 but Immediate Care usually runs more like $125. Obviously, I knew he needed to see a doctor so we could get medicine but I hated to not see our own doctor and to spend the extra money.

We had a long, sick week here. Annabeth is just five lessons away from the end of the semester and we are all looking forward to Christmas week!

Happy Second Week of Advent and Happy Savings to All!


Friday, December 4, 2015

Frugal Friday 120

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I ordered our Christmas card pictures through Sams Club Photo. They are always on sale on Thanksgiving Weekend 100 for $15. I also cashed out our Walmart Savings Catcher dollars making the cards less than $.10 a piece!

- I also ordered Owen's crib mattress on Black Friday. I was able to save $20 off the retail price AND get FREE shipping! We had saved $75 in gift cards so I used those as well. I shopped through Ebates first for 6% cash back as well! I really felt like this was the best combined deal for his mattress. Now I wonder if I will really be able to let my baby sleep in his own room...

- Mark worked one night at his part time job as well as overtime.

- I cashed out some store credit at ThredUP and got myself a new sweater for the winter for FREE! Shipping was also free and I went through Ebates for cashback.

- Last month, Annabeth took a make-up dance class because we missed our usual classes that week. It was with her teacher from last year and was a 4-6 year old class. She LOVED it and has been talking about it/showing us what she learned for weeks. We have agreed to let her take that class as well this year. She will now take two dance and one gymnastics class a week. Our studio does a buy two, get one free class per student so this extra class will be FREE for us ($450 value!)

- I ordered the last of our photo gifts for Christmas from Shutterfly. I redeemed a FREE item code from Pampers Rewards, saved an extra 30% with a Shutterfly code, AND got FREE shipping thanks to a Similac Moms code (I have no idea how I got this code as neither kid has been formula fed but I love free things so thank you to Similac!) Saved: $46.40

We have had a busy week as Owen is getting closer and closer to crawling and he is sitting mostly on his own. He is much more curious and gets bored/grumpy much more quickly. Thankfully, this week Annabeth decided that she wanted to be a babysitter and so they have been playing together for the first time! She entertained him for about an hour each day!

Annabeth decided to make a fort in the pack-and-play. 
This kept both of them busy for more than an hour each day!
I got SO many things done!! 

We hope that you all have had a wonderful week as well.

Happy First Week of Advent and Happy Savings to All!




Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Why You Won't See Santa at Our House

We are all decorated for Christmas.

Nativity Cross.


Advent Calendar.


Hope Sign and Nativity.


Needlework by my Great-Grandma and special boxes from my parents and Momaw.


 Nativity as the centerpiece of our mantle and thus the living room.


A tree filled with beautiful ornaments: angels, crosses, nativity scenes.

Not one Santa.

What?! No Santa?!

But...
"You have children!"
"Santa is part of the fun!"
"Santa is magical!"
"You are no fun!"
"Let them be children, let them believe!"
(Just some of the comments I hear from family and friends)

So, why no Santa?

Christmas is about Christ. 
The weeks leading up to Christmas are not about shopping or wrapping or Black Friday sales. They are the weeks of Advent. They are about waiting with anticipation the celebration of the birth of our Savior.

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." - Isaiah 9:6

Does Annabeth know about Santa? Of course. While we have never directly told her about him nor do we read secular Christmas books, she has seen his picture, she has visited him at our church's "breakfast with Jesus and Santa," others have said "what do you want Santa to bring you?" For the first time this year she is starting to mention him. I have heard her say, "I wonder what Santa will bring us?" or "I wonder if Mrs. Claus will ride in the sleigh?" I direct all Santa questions to Mark or if he is not home I simply ignore them.

I honestly do not remember believing in Santa as a child and then not believing. I think this means my parents handled it well. I remember putting out cookies on Christmas Eve but as long as I can remember I knew that Dad ate them in the night. I don't have a memory of realizing that he is just a fun story and for that I am thankful. I love that my parents kept the focus on the spirit of giving and the birth of our Savior. I do remember church nativity plays, caroling, baking cookies with my Mama and Lu, taking gifts to friends, making Christmas cards, playing Christmas songs on the piano, going to church, singing as a family, etc. Those memories are so precious and so sweet. 

In our world, I think it would be nearly impossible to shield our children completely from Santa and the commercialization of Christmas. It's everywhere. Everywhere but in my home. At home, we will decorate with reminders of Christ and his birth. At home, we will read Christ and family centered Christmas books. We will enjoy wrapping simple gifts for family and friends. We will enjoy making Christmas cards and addressing them as a family. We will bake cookies and sing Christmas songs together. We will stop to spend hours playing Christmas tree ornament games invented by our four-year-old. We have selected some small gifts to give each other within our family and I know the kids will love their new things. But I hope that they will really love giving more than receiving.

This season is about Jesus and the incredible gift He was to the world. 

This is a season of being quiet, of waiting, of seeking the peace that comes only from Him. 

***

As we head into Christmas, do you know Jesus? Do you know that He died for you? What does His birth, His life, His death, and ultimately His resurrection mean to you? If this season of anticipation leaves you wanting to know more or wanting to know Him more - please don't hesitate to leave a comment or message us for more information. We would love to share His light and love with you! 


Friday, November 27, 2015

Frugal Friday 119

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Friday night we made a frozen pizza for dinner and then drove up to church for a free movie night. We enjoyed watching Inside Out and Annabeth loved eating popcorn and playing with her friends.

- A few months ago, Annabeth shot a commercial for a local toy store. The commercial is almost done and when we went to turn in our photo release the store owner gave us 50% off one item. Since the kids were with me, and I am done Christmas shopping for them, I just allowed Annabeth to choose a small item. She chose a Shopkins set and was SO excited. She said, "This is the BEST DAY EVER, even better than getting mail from Sofia the First!"

- After church on Sunday, Mark kept the kids in the car and I ran into two stores for a quick gift and a gift card. This saved me SO much time as well as gas money.

- Mark and his brother Luke went hunting last weekend and Luke got his first deer. Luke and his wife live in an apartment and don't have a deep freeze right now. We are storing the meat in ours and they are letting us eat some of it. Sunday evening we enjoyed our first venison roast of the year. So good! Thank you to Luke for the deer and Mark for making dinner! :)

- I finally looked into Target's Cartwheel app (Yes, Sarah Stair, I know you've been telling me to do it forever) We used some of the coupons to save on Christmas shopping. We saved an extra 10% on Mr. O's stocking and 20% on a toy.

- I had ordered a Christmas gift from Zulily over the summer and when I opened the package to wrap it this week and found that it was horribly stained! :( I tried treating and washing it but the stain would not come out. I called Zulily and much to my surprise they totally refunded my purchase. I was able to find something similar online and the site had FREE shipping. I just hope it comes in time to gift next Friday!

We had a great week and got a lot of things done around the house. We also started Christmas wrapping which was fun to teach Annabeth some basic gift wrap techniques. We also had a wonderful Thanksgiving with Mark's Family.

We pray that you all have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Weekend!

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Frugal Friday 118

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- The kids and I visited my family in Evansville for a long weekend. My parents treated us to meals out as well as a zoo day! We had so much fun visiting with them and are so thankful for the time away!

- I resisted the urge to stop for restaurant food on our way back from Evansville. We came home and cooked dinner. Not as much "fun" as eating out but it was much cheaper and far healthier.

- We received money back through Walmart Savings Catcher. I will save it online until we plan to shop at Walmart or Sam's Club again.

- Mark worked a night at his part time job.

- I listed four items for sale on our local Facebook garage sale pages.

- We grocery shopped for the first time in two weeks. We received two items entirely free with coupons - one bottle of Propel water and one frozen pizza. Unfortunately, I somehow purchased cat treats - I am guessing they were the man's in front of me and the checked checked them out as mine. They were $1 but I found a friend who can use them. Freebie for their family!

- I cashed in an offer from Kellogg's Family Rewards for 101 FREE prints and an offer from Pampers for a FREE Christmas themed gift (both from Shutterfly) and only paid shipping. Saved: $40.14

- We enjoyed a field trip to the Kid's Commons Museum in Columbus. As part of a group class deal, we paid just $5.50 for admission and a special class with our Homeschool Group. We packed our lunch and enjoyed playing at the indoor playground before and after the class.

We both love the bubble room at the Kid's Commons. 

We had a good week catching up on housework and school. We are looking forward to a fun-filled week next week as we anticipate celebrating Thanksgiving Day.

Happy Savings to All!





Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Frugal Friday 117

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Mark worked one night at his part time job

- This is the first year that Annabeth has really been aware of advertising for Christmas and has been asking and asking for toy after toy. We were not especially happy with this and so we decided to have her do the Samaritan's Purse shoebox project this year. I took her to the store, gave her a budget, and allowed her to pick anything she thought a little girl might like. We also included some little stickers and notebooks that we had on hand at home. I used a $5 giftcard to offset some of the cost. I pray that Annabeth will learn to love GIVING instead of receiving.

- I ordered a November birthday gift from Kohl's. I shopped through Ebates, arranged for in store pick-up (saved $8.95 on shipping), and saved $14.40 off the original price by shopping a sale event.

- I cashed in my eRewards bucks for a $25 Amazon gift card. I was able to buy a skin care product for myself and a Christmas gift for less than $5 OOP.

- Sunday afternoon I cleaned out Annabeth's closet. I was able to find (I think) all of the pieces to the crib AND the directions! Our goal is to have Mr. O's crib built by the end of the month! I am not sure how he will do sleeping in his own room (most nights he sleeps in his bed next to ours, holding my hand) but we are going to give it a try!

- We cut Mark and Annabeth's hair at home.

- I took Annabeth to a Monday night dance class since she had to miss her usual classes this week. Classes are paid upfront each month and non-refundable so when we have to miss I always work to do a make-up class.

- Mark's Great Grandpa Bob entered the Life Eternal last week. The visitation and services were this week and the family sent home all of the kid snacks from the visitation for Annabeth. She really enjoyed the special Scooby Doo cookies and gummies. Thank you to family and friends who thought of the little ones!

Mr. O meeting his Great-Great Grandpa Bob.
This was taken in June at Grandpa's birthday party.
So glad they were able to meet and to take a generational/sheriff picture. 

Annabeth's Baptism Day - December 2011
5 Generations
Great-Grandpa Ed, Annabeth, Daddy, Great-Great Grandpa Bob. and PawPaw
I am so thankful we have this memory. 

Our week was an emotional and difficult week. We thank and praise the Lord for the incredible life that Great Grandpa Bob lived. We are so thankful for his service in the military, police dept, and sheriff's office. I am so thankful for his encouragement to Mark as a grandson and a deputy. We are so thankful for his love for our family. We have peace in the knowledge that he is Home with Jesus but will miss him dearly.

Happy Savings to All.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Mama Ministry

During my high school years, at Old North's youth group and Camp Lakeview I really fell in love with the Lord. I fell in love with studying his word, with prayer, with giving to others, and I really fell in love with sharing the Gospel in word and deed.

Thanks to the wonderful encouragement of so many Camp Lakeview staff members, especially Lark and Whitney, as well as one of my youth group leaders Heather, I felt pushed to live a life of love for Christ and his people.

In college, I quickly found that I was not one to lead worship or preach or work in music ministry, I felt more at home serving meals or meeting one on one with people. I also quickly realized that formal group Bible study was not for me. Even so, I very much imagined a life active in the church and church fellowship much like the example I had from my grandparents and parents as they all, in different capacities, have joyfully served their churches and community.

After college and college summers spent working at Lakeview, I got lost.
Where did I fit in the ministry?
How did I fit in ministry?
What work did the Lord want me to be doing and why was it not clear?

The I became a Mama.
For a while I knew, very clearly, that my job was to train up my children in the word of the Lord.
(Proverbs 22:6)
But what else? Surely there was something else the Lord would have me do.

I continued to make friends, develop relationships, go to play groups, school Annabeth, etc and all the while I wondered when God would show me what I was supposed to be doing for Him.

Then one day, I realized, I already was. I was working in the "Mama Ministry." I was meeting strangers and making them friends. I was taking meals to people, baby sitting, encouraging, lending an ear, opening our home and doing it all because I love Him. I may not present each of these opportunities as a Bible study and I may not hand out a Bible worksheet to people who come in. But I pray that our open door, the food on our table, the gifts we share, are a light for Him in this often dark world.

My life, my family's lives, are His. We are His people, designed by him fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and to Him be all the glory. Amen.

"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace." - Acts 20:24 (My favorite verse)

Friday, November 6, 2015

Frugal Friday 116

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- We ate leftovers from our Homeschool Group Halloween Party for two meals. There were a ton of juice boxes left over that made for a special treat for Mark and Annabeth who both love juice. One family also left us a homemade pumpkin pie to enjoy. Thank you!

- We had four cans of paint not opened for the party. I will save them for future art projects.

- We decided not to hand out Halloween candy and saved the cost of purchasing treats. Mark worked that night so we just took the kids out for a quick trip to a few neighbors and then home again for a quiet evening.

- Annabeth and I decorated for Thanksgiving. For our dinner table we use little pumpkins left over from the Pumpkin Party, a turkey cloth from my Grandma Chico, and a homemade pinecone turkey made in school this week by Annabeth.


- I finally finished and ordered Annabeth's Birthday photo book. I used a FREE book code from Pampers Rewards to just pay shipping. I also ordered through eBates to earn cash back. Saved: $29.99

- Mark worked two nights at his part time job.

- We did our grocery shopping at Walmart. We do not usually do a big Walmart trip but we get our prescriptions filled there and then purchase certain items (with coupons) that are always less in their store. We did our monthly grocery shop and spent a bit more than we thought we should. I know some items were more than I usually spend per item at Kroger (by $.25) so I came home at set up a "Savings Catcher" account in case any items were advertised for less elsewhere. Mark has had one of these accounts for a while but since I do the pharmacy run I thought it would be a good idea for me to get one too. We will hopefully get some money back in the next few months!

- I had FREE greeting cards and FREE shipping through Shutterfly from Kellogg's Family Rewards. The kids and I made and ordered some cute greeting cards. Saved: $27.00

- We played with friends on the north side of Indy and resisted the urge to just stop and pick up dinner. Instead, we came home and made shrimp tempura with rice and veggies. It was still done by the time that Mark got home and much healthier than fast food! I am REALLY trying to get out of the habit of stopping for fast food on the way home from busy days.

We had a great week! The weather has been beautiful so we have enjoyed running and playing outside! Mr. O is becoming busier and busier as well! He is becoming more and more fun for Annabeth to play with!

Happy Savings to All!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

30 Day Clean Out: Final Check In

Today is Day 30 of my 30 Day Clean Out!

Here is what I have been getting rid of:

Day 21: I parted with 10 items from my china cabinet - old towels, girl baby bibs, and a fall sewing pattern I will never use.

Day 22: I cleaned out the drawer in our Breakfast Room table. I threw away 2 broken items, recycled 15 envelopes, expired coupons, and old notes of things to do.

Day 23: We only got rid of 1 item today but it was tough to let go of. Annabeth finally admitted that her glitter pink boots from last year are too small. She put them in the donate box all by herself! I was so glad!

Day 24: I cleaned out the lazy susan in our kitchen. I had gotten a couple of cutesy-kitchen items as gifts and have never opened/used them. I will put them in my gift tote as they could make cute additions to shower gifts in the future. I got rid of a TON of plastic tableware that I had been saving for "someday" which has never come in six years of marriage. I also got rid of a glass decanter that we were gifted for our wedding - this was a particularly inappropriate gift as we do not drink or serve alcohol in. I was glad to finally let go of this "our friends gave it to us, we should keep it" item!

Day 25: Annabeth and I cleaned out the toys in the living room. 10 items went to the trash, 4 to recycling, and I made her pick 1 toy to donate. She chose a baby doll that she really doesn't play with. I was so happy to see everything neatly organized on the shelves again!

Day 26: I put out a bunch of things during our Homeschool Group Halloween Party. People took little notebooks, calendars, and other things that my Momaw had given to us. Anything that was not taken went to recycling.

Day 27: I cleaned out some of Owen's 12 month items that he has outgrown. 4 things went in a bag to return to a friend who loaned them to us.

Day 28: I washed and moved the kids' Halloween outfits out of their drawers. This was 6 things for Annabeth and 5 things for Owen moved out of dressers into the sale tote.

Day 29: Since Annabeth's birthday party and our Homeschool Group Party are over, I cleaned all of the hidden toys out of Owen's room and returned them to the play area. (I like to hide items that are especially noisy or that roll as they could run over crawling babies' fingers) There were 4 toys that Annabeth had not asked about or played with in Owen's room in the last month. They went into the donate box and will go to Goodwill tomorrow. I usually ask her to pick but she always says she wants everything and this felt like a good time to really evaluate what she loves to play with and what could go. We also took 4 boxes and 1 tote of paper to the recycling center.

Day 30: I moved 4 clothing items from my closet to the donate tote. I had a bad habit of holding onto clothes that "I might wear someday..." I had really sorted while expecting Owen during the "nesting" phase but I still had a couple of summer items that needed to go.

Total Items Gone: 334!!

Done!!

The first 10 days were very easy. I had started with a few pretty good ideas on areas that I needed/wanted to clean out. The second set of 10 days were still pretty easy as the kids are growing quickly and it motivated me to really go through their clothing. The last set has been the most difficult, I had to really push myself to get rid of a lot of "I might use this..." or "We may need this..." or "What if I need this in 4 years..." items.

Overall, I am really pleased with the outcome. Although much of the house still looks the same, I know that I have gotten rid of a lot of little things. I can now close storage totes that were overflowing. I can see what is in my drawers. I can find things more easily in our files. And you know what, not once have I missed any of the items that I got rid of.

This has been a great exercise in letting go. I tend to do a big clean towards the end of winter every year as I have been cooped up and need to change my surroudnings and last year was the biggest clean out ever. Something about being pregnant with Owen has made me much less sentimental and while I was pregnant I just kept giving things away and throwing things away! It felt wonderful and really jump started this whole process.

What do you consider junk? What would you give away in your own 30 day clean out?

Friday, October 30, 2015

Frugal Friday 115

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I continued my 30 day clean out.

- Last Friday our Homeschool Group took a FREE trip to a farm. The kids were able to grind their own corn, feed chickens, ducks, and goats, took golf cart rides, and played on swings and in a sandbox. It was a beautiful fall day and we had so much fun!


-  Saturday we enjoyed our church's FREE Trunk or Treat celebration. 

- I donated samples of formula that we have gotten to our church food pantry.

- I received FREE feminine hygiene product samples in the mail.

- I turned in Annabeth's fall fundraiser form to dance. Thanks to purchases and donations Annabeth will have $42 of her costume fee covered. Thank you!!

- We enjoyed a FREE Halloween storytime and trick or treat at the library.

Annabeth went as Elsa to trick or treat at the library.
Thank you to Auntie Rose for the beautiful dress!
She colored her ghost blue and named him "Owen."

- Annabeth and I baked cupcakes with homemade buttercream icing for Mark's scout troop Halloween party. I love baking with Annabeth and she loves pretending to be "Pinkie Pie" from My Little Pony. She enjoyed tagging along to the scout party as well.

- While in Edinburgh for lunch, thank you to Miss Teri for treating us!, we headed to the Stride Rite outlet with $15 in savings. Annabeth does not need any shoes in her current size so we bought ahead in tennis shoes. When I went to check out, the computer showed an additional $10 savings offer!!! We were able to get the next size tennis shoes for just $16 OOP!! Woohoo!! Saved: $25

- I sold an item on a Facebook garage sale page. Since the item was Owen's, I added the money to his savings.

- I purchased paint and pumpkins for our Homeschool group Halloween party that we are hosting. I used a gift card to purchase some of the supplies and only spent $9 OOP for the pumpkins.

We had a busy but great week! We are really looking forward to our Homeschool Group Halloween party today and Halloween tomorrow!

Happy Halloween and Happy Savings to All!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

30 Day Clean Out: 20 Day Check In

I am now 20 days into my 30 day clean out.

Here is what I have been getting rid of:

Day 11:  I cleaned out the top drawer of Annabeth's dresser. I got rid of 32 items! 20 items went to our "donate" box, 3 items I will try to sell at Once Upon a Child, and all of the remaining (9) nice items went to friends as hand me downs. Annabeth has grown so much this summer that all of her tights and winter gear do not fit. Thankfully friends could benefit as some tights were still in the package.

Day 12: We spent the day out in the yard. Mark took out 4 little bushes - all little scraggly, strangely placed bushes. Mark also took out some bricks and rocks around a tree. I took 4 boxes and 1/2 a tote of paper to recycling.

Day 13: 8 books from the bookshelf - 3 were so torn up they will just be recycled and 5 will be donated.

Day 14: We took 59 items to sell at Once Upon a Child. It felt great to get all of those things out of the house! Everything we did not sell, we donated.

Day 15: I went through my wrapper paper (non Christmas) tote. I got rid of 13 items. I parted with crunched up/ripped bags as well as unrepairable bows. If you know me, you know that I love my three totes of wrapping paper and that it is hard for me to get rid of things in them! I am a bit afraid of becoming a gift bag/tissue paper/wrapping paper hoarder! I also moved 2 pairs of PJ pants and 2 hats of Mark's that he does not wear (Notre Dame and UofL items in great condition) to Owen's grow-into-tote. Hopefully he will enjoy them in many years!

Day 16: I cleaned out the junk drawer in the kitchen. I threw away and recycled lots of junk! Now we don't have to dig to get to what we actually need to use.

Day 17: I spent the afternoon cleaning out our records. I pulled 1 diaper box of things to shred as Community Shred Day is this upcoming Saturday.

Day 18: I took 6 items from the kids' drawers and moved them to the sale tote. I also moved 1 of my shirts to the donate box.

Day 19: I moved 12 more items from Owen's dresser into the sale tote. (Owen is gaining an average of 1 lb every 10 days so we are going through his clothes REALLY quickly!)

Day 20: I photographed and listed 20 items for sale on Facebook Garage Sale Pages. Here's hoping that they sell!

20 Day Item Total: 263 Items (that is 63 over my 2 week goal!!!)

Even though we have cleaned out 263 items I still feel like we have SO much stuff! I am looking forward to really cleaning out some more things in the final 10 days of this project.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Frugal Friday 114

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Mark worked two nights at his part time job.

- I received a FREE roll of paper towels. I was sent them to review so along with the free roll, I will also be compensated through eRewards for my review.

- I continued my 30 Day clean out.

- One day I cleaned out Annabeth's dresser. I found 9 items that one of her friends could use. We will pass them on this weekend.

- We spent Saturday getting the yard ready for winter. Mark took out quite a few shrubs as well as some bricks and rocks from around the trees. The yard looks SO much better. I cleaned the kids' water table really well and found a place to store it in the garage for winter. I don't want to crack this winter outside in the cold.

The kids playing on Annabeth's baby playmat.
We gave it to friends for their two boys and we are borrowing 
it back as we currently have the littlest baby.
We love to trade things around!

- Friends dropped off four vintage Boy Scout books for Mark. He collects old scouting items and these were a great addition to his collection.

- Owen and I shopped at Kohl's for his Christmas gift for Annabeth. We found two things for him to get her and I finished out her stocking items. Combining a sale + $15 Kohl's cash we saved $43.80 and spent just $6.61 OOP.

- We went to Mark's parents on Sunday after church. They served lunch and snacks all afternoon which was wonderful! It gave us an extra meal this week from our meal plan.

- Our energy company came and put an energy saving box on our air conditioner. We should see a difference next summer as well as a $25 credit on our next bill.

- I ordered a Christmas gift from Shutterfly using a coupon code. I only had to pay shipping on the item. Saved: $24.99

- Our friend Cynthia brought over homemade empanadas - pineapple and milk filled. They were delicious! We always enjoy trying new recipes from her Mexican culture.

- I mended one of Annabeth's house slippers and one of her leotards.

- I received a payout from ThredUP. I had sent unsold items from the fall consignment sale. By selling them to ThredUP, I made an additional $7.50!

- I found baby food Buy One, Get One Free with a coupon. I added it to Owen's growing stash. (He is currently only nursing as his little belly did not do well with rice cereal or oatmeal)

Frugal Fail:
- Monday the kids and I drove the 30 minutes to Once Upon a Child. They, are under a buying freeze on the sizes that I had, we only made $3.38. NOT worth the drive or time! :(

We had a busy week and another week of just me and the kids at home and Mark at work. I am so thankful for the little bits of family time that we do have.

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"

Friday, October 16, 2015

Frugal Friday 113

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- We ordered Owen's toy for Christmas from Kohl's. I went through Ebates to earn 6% cash back. I purchased the toy on sale + 20% off coupon + $10 Kohl's cash + Free shipping to instore pick up. I would have saved over $15 on retail price BUT the store ran out of the item. I was refunded my money and Kohl's Cash PLUS they gave me an extra $5 gift card for the inconvinience.

- We went with my family to Goebel Farm to get our pumpkins. We have gone there every year and I now love sharing it with Mark and the kids. Annabeth and Owen painted their pumpkins on Tuesday. It was great fun!

My little pumpkin painters and their finished pumpkins. 

- My Mama cut and colored my hair for me at home.

- Mark and I cut his hair at home.

- We did a mini-grocery trip and my best deals were FREE Kroger wipes with coupon and 82 diapers for $8! This made each diaper just $.09!! Saved: $12

- Wednesday we met Rose and her boys in Columbus to play at the FREE playground at the Commons. We did splurge and go to out to lunch.

- We had Luke and Cassidy over for dinner. We did a Mexican night. We provided chicken/peppers/onions, rice, and tortillas. They brought chips and queso! It was delicious, we had a great visit, and enjoyed leftovers the day.

- Thursday the kids and I stayed home and had a no-spend day. We did not use anything except for energy around the house which we are careful about consumption. When Annabeth leaves a room she says, "Lights out! I don't want our 'lectricity to run out!"

- Mark worked 3 nights at his part time job.

- My Momaw had sent up a HUGE amount of paper supplies - cards, stickers, gift tags, etc that she gets free in the mail. I organized it into my card holder and gift wrap totes and then all items I will not use I will plan to save to give out to others. I recycled any items that could not be used.

We had a busy, busy week! I am glad to see this empty weekend ahead of us on the calendar!

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"


Thursday, October 15, 2015

30 Day Clean Out: 10 Day Check-In

I am 10 days into my 30 day clean out.

Here is what I have been getting rid of!

Day 1: 15 items of Annabeth's clothing shared with younger friends at her dance class. 9 onesies from Owen handed down to a coworker along with their Welcome Baby gift.

Day 2: 10 items cleaned out from my make-up bag. I got rid of old mascara, eye liner, etc that was way beyond when it should be used. I also cleaned out a few lotions and things that had just tiny amounts left.

Day 3: 18 winter maternity and kids items sent to ThredUP. 3 large cardboard boxes and 1 tote of paper taken to recycling.

Day 4: I cleaned out the car to prepare for our weekend trip. I had 1 bag of grocery trash, 17 items to recycle (coupons and papers it's not like I had 17 water bottles in my car!), and 1 tote of toys to return to the house to put away.

Day 5: Out of Town

Day 6: Out of Town

Day 7: Out of Town

Day 8: I cleaned the last 10 maternity items out of my closet. No, I have not been wearing them but I have just not made the time to clean out. I had cleaned out all of the items I had borrowed the weekend before I went in to have him and then had just left the rest until now. It made a lot of extra room!

Day 9: I cleaned 15 summer items out of Annabeth's dresser for the Spring Sale tote. Items that will fit again next year went into her closet tote.

Day 10: I cleaned out a ton of paper from the schoolroom and took it to recycling. I did not count actual pieces but it did feel good to get rid of a TON of paper!

Total Items Out in the First 10 Days: 100 Items
I was glad to have matched my goal!

Thoughts on the First 10 Days:
- I just wrapped up the fall consignment sale so I had already sorted items that need to leave the house. This 30 day project pushed me to actually donate and sell the leftover items in a timely fashion.
- I knew I was going to be out of town over the long weekend for Columbus Day so I tried to make up for those days' goals (30 items over the 3 days) by getting rid of extra each day leading up to the weekend.

Target Clean Out Areas for the Next 10 Days:
- Annabeth's top drawer of her dresser (not gone through in a year! eep!)
- The Coat Closet
- Craft Supplies

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Boy Mama

Many warned me, none I believed, about being a Boy Mama.

I thought before Mr. O was born "I love Annabeth so much. I will never, could never, love someone the way I love her. We are best friends. She reads my mind, I read hers. She is my everything."

Then Mr. O came. The boy mamas were right. There is something about the way a Mama loves her son. It is totally different than the way I love my daughter. It is an equal love, an amazing love, but a totally unique love.

"You'll be... 
his first friend,
his first kiss,
and his first love.
You are his Mama 
and
he is your little boy."
"I'll love you forever.
I'll like you for always.
As long as I'm living,
my baby you'll be."
- Robert Munsch
 "There never has been, nor will there ever be,
anything quite as special as the love between a mother and son."
 "And she loved a little boy 
very much
even more than she loved herself."
e.e. cummings



Friday, October 9, 2015

Frugal Friday 112

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- We had great fun celebrating  at Annabeth's Deer Party. Be sure to check previous posts for all of our frugal party fun!

- The fall consignment sale wrapped up. I exceeded my goal of $250 profit. Once the check comes it will be divided into four categories: 10% for church, check to my sister-in-law for her portion of the sales, money to savings, and money to a special savings*

- I divided my leftover items into three categories. I took a tote of things to Annabeth's dance class on Tuesday morning and let other moms take whatever they wanted, all of my unsold boy items will go to Once Upon a Child to help buy the next size for Mr. O, and all of the eligible items will go to ThredUP for credit on their site.

- We let Annabeth choose all of the activities on her birthday. She chose to eat breakfast and lunch at home and just wanted to play at the park. We did enjoy a sushi dinner for her big birthday meal. I was thankful that she chose free fun and loved it just as much as some expensive outing!

Opening her birthday gifts from us.
All of them, except for her big item, were purchased with Zulily credit from referrals. 

- Tuesday I started my 30 Day Clean Out. Keep checking back for updates!

- This week's Preschool Storytime had a special visit from a firefighter. Annabeth enjoyed the stories but was afraid of the man in the fire outfit. It was a great class for littles and a good way for them to see that the firefighter behind the "scary" mask is a safe person.

- We enjoyed LOTS of time outside as we had beautiful weather this week! We were so thankful for sunshine and some warmth. We especially enjoyed playing with friends on the cul-de-sac. Thank you O'Neal Family for the invite to tag along!

- I mended one of Owen's onesies.

- I ordered 10 free cards through Shutterfly. Saved $19.90

- Our neighbor kids were having a garage sale during their fall break. We walked over and Annabeth found three small toys - including a My Little Pony - and I found a Halloween Mickey Mouse shirt for her (this was a great find because Owen has Mickey Halloween PJs and she has been envious of them) All for $1. At home, Annabeth chose three small toys to get rid of since she found three. I added $1 to Owen's piggy bank since we did not find any items for him.

We hope you have had a good week as well!!

Happy savings to all!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Deer Party Favors and Invitations

In the middle of Annabeth's 3rd Birthday Party, she announced "Next year I will have a deer party!"
Everyone laughed, how cute is she?
While Annabeth is cute, she is also determined and focused, and so 364 days later we had her deer party.

Not long after her 3rd birthday party, I made a "Deer Party" board on Pinterest and began hunting for ideas. One of the ideas was to use the book Bambi as a party favor. The idea stuck in the back of my mind and in the spring Annabeth and I were in Dollar Tree and they had Bambi in the book section. I dug through the books and found enough copies to use as favors. I used a gift card to buy them so they were totally free!

Mark and I were out on a date one night, wandering Target, and Mark found this deer dress on the clearance rack! She looked adorable in it!


Later in the spring, Mark and I were at Walmart and we found cute little wooden deer. I knew I had magnets at home leftover from a project and so we bought the wooden deer and make them into personalized magnets for each child party guest. Just $.29/deer.


About a month before her party Annabeth announced that she wanted to have a coloring station with deer pictures for her and her friends. I printed deer pictures off the internet and we melted down old broken crayons to made tie-dye circle crayons to use at the party and for kids to take home as favors.


I looked up invitations and was shocked at the prices! Since we needed fewer than 10 invitations and most everyone throws them away,I hated to spend a great deal of money on invites. In searching Etsy one day, I found adorable little deer cutouts. I decided that I would hand-write the invitations (remember we needed less than 10) and just add a little deer in the corner. Annabeth chose the pink deer and we ordered them from PurpleSakana. We ordered the pink confetti deer in 2 inches. We ordered them on a Friday afternoon and Monday afternoon they were in our mailbox. The little deer were adorable and printed on high quality pink cardstock. The seller, Joice, even included 8 free pink deer stickers to match!



Annabeth wanted yellow plates, napkins, and forks which we purchased for $5 at Dollar Tree. Since we had not spent much on party favors or paper goods I decided to try and find some more deer items on Etsy. I found these adorable pink deer cups on SweetKaity's Etsy shop. They are so cute and also high quality.


We usually decorate the mantle for her birthday parties since she opens her gifts underneath it. I used our chalk board tablet and a little pink deer to make her 4 sign. I used the "A" from her room decor and our Sage box alongside her stuffed animal Fawn. I was glad to use things from around the house as it was free and, I think, more special than store bought decorations.


As strange of a theme as a deer party was, I did have fun looking for unique deer items!


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

30 Day Clean Out: Intro and Goals

30 Days. 300 Items.
That is my clean out goal for the next month.

My Mama had pinned a house detox plan and I thought "I need to do that!"

Originally I had planned to do it in November since November has 30 days I thought it would be an easy month to keep track of the days and a good way to clear out some stuff before more comes in from Christmas.

Then, last night in the middle of the night, I decided why wait? I might as well begin today.

My goal is to get rid of at least 10 items per day for the next 30 days.

I will keep track of what I get rid of and what I do with it here on the blog.

I will check in on the 10 day, 20 day, and finally the 30 day mark.

I am anxious to see how much I can get rid of by donating, giving away to family/friends, or selling!

Feel free to join me and leave your plan and results in the comments. I would love to hear your ideas and encouragement!

Check back on October 15 for my 10 day update! :)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Four.

Today our Sweet Nanners, our Anna Baby, our Annabeth Sage is 4 years old.

How did this happen? Where did the time go?

Annabeth is incredibly kind. She seems to always be thinking of others - especially her friends and Owen. She will often say "remember that ____ is sick or remember that _____ has a baby in her belly, let's pray for them!" She loves to shop for people's birthdays and she loves to make crafts for people as well. She always seems to know when I need a word of encouragement or when I just need someone to hold my hand.


Annabeth is silly. She loves to dance and act out stories. She is currently obsessed with all things Halloween and is always telling "scary" stories. She loves to make up her own songs. She really loves to make silly faces in an attempt to make Owen laugh.


Annabeth lives life moment by moment. She reminds us daily to find the joy in little things. She loves to catch butterflies and loves to stop and look at bugs and animals. She is amazed by simple things.


Annabeth is an incredible big sister. We have not seen many moments of insecurity or jealousy after Owen's arrival. She likes to check on him. She always thinks of him and tries to include him. She is his biggest cheerleader and fan. The day he rolled over I think she was more excited than Mark and myself combined. She will yell, "Look! Owen is ______! Good job Big Boy! Good job!"


 Annabeth is a wonderful daughter. She works so hard to be helpful and obedient. She enjoys cooking and helps me prepare nearly every meal. She runs to greet Mark with hugs and kisses. She stops in the middle of the day to pray that "Daddy come home safe."


Annabeth is an inspiration and a miracle. She is here, she lives because of the grace of God. Her delivery is, I pray, the darkest moments of our life. We are thankful that her shoulder was not permanently injured, we are blessed that there was no brain damage or damage to her heart, and we are constantly amazed by the goodness of our God. In Annabeth's life, we are constantly reminded of His grace and His faithfulness.

We do not have any idea what the future holds for Annabeth but are comforted by the fact that the Lord knows exactly how He will use her (Jeremiah 29:11). We pray that she will strive to seek His will in all that she does. We pray that she will be a light for Him (Matthew 5:16). We pray for as many days as the Lord sees fit to give her.

Happy 4th Birthday to our Miracle Girl.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Frugal Friday 111

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Annabeth and I melted old broken crayons into cute, circle, tie-dye crayons. We will use them as part of the party favors for her birthday party this weekend. Check back next week for a full party decoration and favor post! :)

- Saturday we had a Family Day. We watched "The Muppet Movie," enjoyed playing at the library, and treated ourselves to dinner out for once.

- Mark chose two movies at the library and he and I had an at-home movie date Saturday evening.

- Mark and Owen wore coordinating polos to church on Sunday. I found Mr. O's for $.50 at a consignment store.

 My handsome boys. 2/3 of my heart. 

- I dropped off our items at the consignment sale. The sale runs through tomorrow. By Sunday morning I should have my sales totals. My goal is $250. We will see...

- Monday Annabeth and our friends the Gomez Girls helped shoot a commercial for our local toy store Toodleydoo Toys. The girls spent an hour playing with toys while being filmed. They had a lot of fun plus it was a neat experience.

- Mark worked one night at his part time job.

- I found two BIG hair bows for baby girls while cleaning out my closet. I sent them to a grade school friend who just had her first baby.

- I took a garbage bag of clothes from Annabeth and Owen to Goodwill.

- I pre-shopped our consignment sale and came in under budget. I spent just $39. Annabeth selected two skirts and a shirt/skirt outfit from her size. She "could not" like any of the other items so I didn't have to spend much at all for her. She also chose a baby doll high chair for her Baby Zoe - just $2 and it was Disney Princess! I found Owen 4 pant/shirt outfits and 2 single shirts, and one one piece outfit. I was happy to find a Thanksgiving outfit that might fit (I hope!!) and a Christmas shirt to replace the 6 month one I had bought for Christmas that he has long since outgrown.

- Mark did the grocery shopping for Annabeth's birthday party and the next two weeks. We received $11 off next order coupons! Woohoo!!

- I received my flu shot for FREE through Mark's work. In the past, Mark has gotten it free through work and Annabeth has been free through insurance but last year I had to pay for mine. I am glad to get it for free.

- We enjoyed a pizza dinner out using a gift card. We bought the gift card from a neighbor boy who was selling them to earn money for a class trip. So it wasn't really a "free" dinner but we were glad to help out our neighbor.

Frugal Fail:
- I was not paying close enough attention when checking out at the consignment sale and I received too little change. I came out $14 short and didn't realize until I got home :(

We had a great week getting lots of work done around the house and are looking forward to celebrating Annabeth's 4th Birthday this weekend. Be sure to check back next week for lots of Birthday Fun!

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

We Loved Them First

There is someone in my life who I often accuse of living in the past. I always complain that this person thinks the best years of their life was when their children were young. I have judged their inability to see how beautiful life is right now.

I am sorry.
I get it now.

My children are young, almost 4 years old and almost 4 months old - both happening this week, and I cannot imagine life any more wonderful.

I spend my days cuddling.
I spend my day holding hands.
I spend my days giving kisses.
I spend my days reading.
I answer questions. I ask different questions.
I think.
I dream.
I build "dream castles."
I play house.
I clean house.
I dance.
I sing.
I make Anna-butter and jelly sandwhiches.
I nurse Owen.

Some moments feel tedious.
Some moments feel long.
Some moments feel rough.

But at the end of the day, it always feels too short. There are not enough hours for all the love I want to give.

Maybe it's because Annabeth is our Miracle Girl. Our one whose heart stopped, whose first breath didn't come. Our one who the Lord so graciously saw fit to save. Who made us Mama and Daddy.

Maybe it's because Owen fixed parts of me that I didn't realize were broken. Our one who fulfilled dreams I didn't know I had - a perfect delivery, to be a boy-mama. Our one who completes us.

Today I realized they won't always be just ours. They will grow up. They will choose their friends over us on Friday nights. They will move out. And eventually, someday, they will love someone more than us. They will each, I pray, fall head-over-heels in love and be sure that they have never loved anyone that much nor have they ever been loved so much. They will be wrong, we loved them first and God loves them most.

But until Annabeth meets a man that she wants to dance with more than Daddy and before Owen finds a woman that makes him smile bigger than I do, they are ours.

We're doing our very best to love them first and we are sure that God is loving them best.


Friday, September 25, 2015

Frugal Friday 110

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I spent an evening catching up on my erewards surveys in my e-mail. My goal is to try to earn two $25 Amazon gift cards before Christmas to help with Christmas shopping.

- Mark worked overtime at work and also one night at his part-time job.

- Mark worked security the SSPOM consignment sale. They paid very generously by the hour.

- I refused an offer to preshop the SSPOM sale. Mark was given a presale pass for working security but since neither of the kids had a genuine need I did not go. I was curious to check out this sale but knew I would spend money on items we didn't really need. I will preshop our consignment sale in a few weeks though.

- Sunday we stayed home after church. Mark deep cleaned the living room and mowed the lawn. I spent 6+ hours getting everything tagged and hung for the consignment sale. Mark helped me cut out the card stock tags and Annabeth helped separate the plastic taggies.

250 items tagged and ready to go!

- We ate at home all week. I made two crockpot meals and am really trying to get back in the habit of cooking "real" meals.

- I did some Christmas shopping at Target. I used a $10 giftcard to cover more than 1/3 of our total bill.

- My friend Alysha brought us some Huggies rewards tags. Thank you!

- We shopped at Kohl's and combined a toy sale + coupon + gift card for Annabeth to buy her Christmas gift to Owen. She chose a teething toy and another toy. She was very methodical and thoughtful in her choosing. We also found a good deal on PJs for Mr. O in the next size. We saved $18.49 and spent just $.41 OOP.

- We spent Wednesday outside with friends. Mr. O ended up with some major heat rash after the afternoon so I decided that Thursday we would stay in. We had a game day and Annabeth fell in love with Jenga!

She LOVED Jenga and enjoyed it much more than her card or board games.

We had a great week! We were able to catch up with friends we hadn't seen in a while and also enjoyed lots of outside time with the beautiful fall weather.

Happy Fall and Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"

Friday, September 18, 2015

Frugal Friday 109

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Mark and Annabeth spent Sunday afternoon fishing. They caught six fish and they both loved being out together.

- I redeemed Old Navy cash to purchase a Christmas gift for free.

- Mark worked two shifts at his usual part time job.

- We did NOT go to the grocery. We have made due with what we purchased 10 days ago. This helped us use up items in the fridge/freezer/pantry

- I cleaned out Annabeth's dresser and closet from summer items. I know we will still have some warm days so I just took out the items that I know will be too small next spring. They went into next springs sale tote. I also cleaned out a large amount of plastic hangers from her closet. They went to the recycling and she now has more room in her closet.

- I put a request on Facebook for wire hangers since the consignment sale requires wire hangers. Two friends brought us TONS of hangers which will save me from having to purchase them. Thank you Ann and Kara!

- I asked Annabeth to choose 4 toys to get rid of before her 4th birthday. She chose three little stuffed animals and one large one. They are truly ones that she does not play or sleep with. I was proud of her for choosing so carefully. My goal was to make a little more room in the toy chests before her birthday toys come.

- We took a big box to Goodwill. The box included clothes from Annabeth and myself as well as the four toys she cleaned out.

- Friends from our homeschool group reviewed a board game and were able to pick a friend to receive a game free in the mail. They chose us! We have enjoyed playing "Feed the Woozle" from Peaceable Kingdom. Thank you Templeman Family - it gave us some fun this week! :)

- I took advantage of a letter writing opportunity through the UofL Alumni Association called Cards Writing Cards. I was given the materials to write "Welcome to the Alumni Family" letters to 20 graduates of the 2015 class. It was my pleasure to write to, and pray for, these 20 people.

 The day we found out Owen was a boy, we went to the mall and each of us picked
out outfits for him. Annabeth HAD to have this shirt for her Owen! 
Isn't he handsome?!


Our week was pretty mellow as Annabeth was sick Monday- Thursday, Owen had it by Wednesday evening, and even Mark stayed home sick from work on Thursday.

Hope you all had a healthier week than us.

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Review: Peaceable Kingdom Games

Over the summer, our friends the Templeman Family from our homeschool group reviewed a board game they played and in turn were able to send a free board game to a friend. They chose us! I was able to go to the Peaceable Kingdom website and pick a game for our family.

I chose "Feed the Woozle." Thank you Templeman Family!

The game came in the mail this week and we have loved playing it. The game is constructed of high quality materials and the company has a free replacement policy in case pieces are lost or broken. I love that their games are cooperative games, designed for the group to truly play with each other and not against the other. One only wins if the whole group works together to win. The game that we received has three instructions for three different age groups. Annabeth is very capable of playing with the 3-4 year old instructions and can play about half of the 4-5 year old instructions. When she is much older, I am sure we will enjoy playing with the 5-6 year old instructions.

Peaceable Kingdom says their mission is to: Make good, do good, be good!

I was excited to receive a high quality game that was truly age appropriate and fun! I was also excited to find a whole line of games that our family can play as a family! :)

We look forward to purchasing and playing more games in the years to come.

*This review consists of my own observations and opinions. I was not compensated for this review*

Friday, September 11, 2015

Frugal Friday 108

Happy Frugal Friday!!!

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

- We visited my family in Evansville/Owensboro for Labor Day. We sorted through some things from my Grandma Chico's house and we brought back lots of dishes for our house. The plates we got from our wedding have been chipping so we are glad to have new (to us) ones.

- We purchased a cake for my sister's birthday. We were able to eat it Saturday, Sunday, and Monday! It was delicious and we were glad to eat it for several desserts.

- We took our old printer on our trip to Evansville. We had purchased one that doesn't work with our computers. Mama and Dad will either keep it or if they find they don't need it either, they will sell it at an upcoming garage sale.

- Annabeth has decided to be a "blue ghost" for Halloween. She picked this over the summer and has held firm. She said she just wants us to cut eye and mouth holes in a blue sheet. She mentioned it while visiting my Momaw. Momaw gave her a pillowcase and my Mama made the eye and mouth holes. It is not blue but does have some blue decorative parts on it. She LOVES it and walked around scaring everyone. I love that my child is as frugal as I am!

- We pre-paid Annabeth's dance for the year. Our dance school offers a discount for having a member's card and for paying for the whole year up front. We were able to save well over $100 for the year!

Our beautiful, Miracle Girl doing her flower dance

- We received a phone call that our energy company wants to add a energy saving box to our air
conditioner. It will give us a $25 credit on our next bill and should save us $5/month or more during the hot time of year. We had done this at our old house and I thought I had already done it here so we were happy to take advantage of this deal.

- We received an ad in the mail for a Disney movie club. We knew it was junk mail but it had Mickey Mouse on the front so we let Annabeth open it. It had a sheet of stickers inside with the offer. She was SO happy to have stickers from Mickey!!

- Mark worked one shift at his part-time job.

- Annabeth homemade Grandparent's Day cards. Grandparents Day is this Sunday, September 13.

- We took advantage of the annual sale at the Stride Rite Outlet. Shoes there were Buy One, Get One 50% + 2x Rewards points. I was able to save $53.04 using the outlet store prices and the 2nd pair 50% off. I also earned our next $10 reward. I will fill out a survey and earn $5 off our next purchase which I will add to the $10 for $15 off our next purchase.

- I printed my tags for the fall consignment sale. A friend also dropped off wire hangers! Thank you Ann! Our sale requires wire hangers and I always try to get as many free as I can!

- We saw on Disney Junior that children can now write a letter to Sofia from Sofia the First and she will respond. Annabeth had fun writing a letter and drew Sofia a spider. I thought this was a pretty fun activity for just the cost of a stamp.

We had a long week here as Mark's Grandpa Ed went Home this past Saturday. We are missing him but are eternally grateful to our Lord and Savior for the blessing of Eternal Life.

Happy Savings to All. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Frugal Friday 107

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I received a FREE Shutterfly photo book in my e-mail. I did not even have to redeem any points for this book. Thank you Pampers Rewards! I will save the code and use it to print a photo book later this fall.

- Saturday, we traveled an hour north to go to a FREE family carnival at Mark's aunt and uncle's church. We enjoyed games, bounce houses, and visiting with his family. Annabeth loved getting her face painted for the first time and really loved hours in the bounce houses.

Her first face paint: Olaf. 

- Sunday evening, Mark's parents brought us dinner. His mom made meatloaf, noodles, and salad. She also brought 3 lbs of watermelon. I had also purchased watermelon for the weekend so Monday morning Annabeth and I took some to share with friends in the neighborhood. Their girls were pretty excited!

- I finished tagging items for the fall consignment sale. I have 250 items that will need tagged later this month! This is over double the amount of items I had in the spring sale!

- I ordered more plastic tags off Amazon in anticipation of using them to save tagging time. In the spring, I ran out of plastic tags and used safety pins but it REALLY added to the amount of time it took to get ready. I was able to get 5,000 tags for less than $7 thanks to an Amazon gift card I earned taking online surveys.

- Annabeth and I homemade three gifts to give this week. We gave two for a birthday gift and one for a baby shower. I am thankful to be getting back into crafting again!

- I found some size 1 and size 2 diapers in the bottom of the diaper bag. I took them to families with kids in those sizes. Our friend Ann traded us for a cute shirt for Annabeth! Annabeth was so excited! :)

- I renewed OnStar for the year and saved $50 by waiting until 21 days from the due date. My Mama gave me this hint last year and it's well worth it to wait!! :)

- We attended Homeschool Days at Conner Prairie. On these days students are $5.50 and the teachers are FREE! Saved $21.50 off regular admission price!

With my two favorite students :)

We had a fun and busy week. Hope you did too!!

Happy Savings to All!

"Buy Used and Save the Difference"