Monday, February 29, 2016

New Year's Resolutions: February Recap

Since I shared my New Year's Resolutions at the beginning of the year, I thought I would check in each month with my progress.

Baking/Cooking Challenge:
I did not try one new recipe each week. In fact, I only tried one the whole month.
I made German Oven Pancakes for Leap Day Breakfast.

I sold one item and saved my birthday money for my 30th Birthday Trip.

We did not manage to have a date out this month.
We did enjoy watching the final season of Downton Abbey together though.

Looking forward to March! I am hoping for a real date night and I have some fun recipes planned to try! :)

Saturday, February 27, 2016

"But my hands are tired..." A Clean Up Meltdown

Thursday was the worst, and I mean WORST, parenting day I have ever had. Ever.

It started on Wednesday evening. Annabeth had spent most of the day playing "birthday party" in Owen's room. His room is basically a big, open space right now and she was having so much fun that I thought it was a fine idea to play in there. Even though, I generally try to have all of the toys picked up at the end of the day so we don't begin the next day with a mess, we were having dinner at our friend's house so we did a quick pick up and just left the rest of the toys out.

Thursday morning we woke up to the mess still in Owen's room. I told Annabeth that before she could get out any more toys that she would have to pick those up and put them away. She wanted the continue the birthday party game so she played in there most of the morning. We all got washed up, had lunch, and then had a great school session. Then around 3 o'clock it all came crashing down.

She wanted to play in her toy kitchen so I reminded her that she could not do that until all of her things in Owen's room were put away. She was angry but I reminded her that it really should have been done the evening before or that morning. She threw herself on the floor in a huge fit. I quickly saw that she was not going to get to work so I set the kitchen timer. This technique usually makes her focus and hurry to clean up. Not yesterday, the timer just made her more angry. By the end of the ten minutes she had removed every item from Owen's room and thrown it in the hallway. I said, "No. Those items need to be put away." She was screaming and crying even louder at this point and so she pushed them all into the doorway of her room. "OKAY! THIS IS WHERE I WANT THEM!" she yelled. I said, "No. They need to go where they belong so we can find them next time." Wail! "But my hands are tired. They are too tired to pick up!" She probably yelled that phrase at me 20 times.

We sat at "My hands are too tired" for about an hours worth of screaming (by now Owen was also crying).

I debated what to do. Usually when clean up is rough one of two things happens:
1. I pick up everything away where it goes because I do not want to deal with the fit any longer.
2. I pick up everything and put it in bags and take it to the garage. Then she must earn back the toys.

Either way she "wins" because I pick up all the toys. Neither of these tactics have worked in the past.

Finally, at 5 o'clock (yes two hours in) I gave in and bagged up everything I could find and took it all to the garage. She was kicking and screaming and hitting me. I put her in her room, closed the door, and went to cook dinner.

When Mark got home we had a long talk about what the consequences needed to be.

We didn't want to throw the toys away. Some were some of her very nice and best toys that could be enjoyed by someone else. It felt extremely wasteful to even pretend to throw nice things away.

We debated if she should have to donate the toys but we didn't want her to think that giving to charity is a punishment.

In the end, Mark came up with a plan.

He moved every.single.toy. into the living room. Then he moved the toy containers into the room. His new rule is that every toy must fit into one of the totes and all of the others needed to leave the house. If her hands were too tired to pick up her toys than she had too many toys.

Mark and Annabeth worked together, beautifully I might add, and sorted through all of her toys. They filled one bag of trash of toys that were broken or chewed on, one bag for Goodwill, and one bag to save and sell at the Spring Consignment Sale. Mark and I did vote that three of her give-away items had to go to her keepsake tote as we were emotionally attached to them.

In the end, her gigantic meltdown led to a great clean out and a wonderful opportunity for her to work together with Mark to complete a huge task. I was so grateful for his idea and execution of this plan. When she and I clean out toys, I can usually get her to part with two or three but she responded really well to his plan. This was a great consequence for her actions because she really did have to part with quite a few items. I think it also allowed us to show her that we value her opinion and we want to hear her wishes. We allowed her to pick all items that stayed or left and we hope that she felt respected in the process.

It was a great reminder of why I love being part of a parenting team and why I love being married to Mark so much. He has a wonderful way of calming me down and balancing me out. I am so thankful to be married to someone who helps me to be better. God has richly blessed me with beautiful children and a wonderful husband.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Frugal Friday 131

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Mark worked overtime and two nights at his part time job.

- As we have moved things around the house and we have ended up with two extra TVs. My parents took one back to Evansville and Mama donated it to a charity for us. We were happy to make more room in our bedroom and to donate a working TV to a place that needed it.

- Owen continued to enjoy baby food given to us by his friend Asher. There were many flavors that I may not have purchased (example:  a jar of Beets, Pear, and Pomegranate) that he ended up loving.

- The kids, Annabeth especially, did a lot of painting. She used coloring pages from her coloring books and we also made cute little footprint parrots that she found the design for on Pinterest.

- We enjoyed lots and lots of time outside as the weather was gorgeous from Friday until Tuesday!

- I sold one of Annabeth's too-small leotards to a dance class friend. I added the money to savings. Made: $5

- We finished the Winter Reading Program at the library and earned a FREE book bag for our family.

I found a book at the library with her two favorite animals -
a vulture and a possum! She was overjoyed!

- I made Annabeth a turban headband from a video tutorial on Facebook. I used a tank top I already had on hand so it was totally FREE!

This cute headband got a thumbs up from Annabeth! 

- Wednesday night our sweet friends the O'Neal family had us over for dinner. We enjoyed the fellowship and delicious dinner.

- I continued to clean out my closet and parted with some worn out items. I am working towards only having items that I really love and really wear.

- I entered our Walmart receipt on Savings Catcher and got back $2.47.

- I ordered Owen's birthday gift off Zulily. Annabeth has had a very specific outdoor toy that she wants Owen both of them to have. I have been watching the price on it on Amazon, Toys R Us, and a few other sites. It came on Zulily this week for HALF the lowest price I have seen anywhere else. Even with shipping I saved more than $50 off the lowest price anywhere else. I also went through ebates for 1% cash back. I think they will both enjoy it for many years to come.

Frugal Fails:
- I broke down on the "not eating out" and ordered pizza one night. I cashed in a free pizza reward and a gift card so I just had to pay the tip.

- I went to Mama's Morning Out. This month we met at Starbucks and I did enjoy breakfast and coffee while there. I used a gift card from my birthday and paid nothing out of pocket.

- I have had a vision for the kids' Easter outfits and after a lot of online and in store searching I found what I wanted. I did not have a coupon but the items were 40% off. I spent more than I wanted to but am so happy with what I found. That night Mark reminded me sometimes it's okay to spend a little more to get what you want.

- We stopped at Subway between church and visiting Mark's family. They had been out to eat after early service and the kids would not have made it without lunch so we stopped.

Overall, we have noticed some real changes in our budget after (mostly) not eating out all month. While we don't go out to dinner very often, we do stop for fast food. All those little purchases really add up and we've been pleased with how much we have saved this month.

Happy Savings to All!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Brother and Sister

February 9, 2015 we went to St. Francis for our 20 week (which ended up being a 24 week) ultrasound.

I was worried about #2's brain, heart, and lungs.

I was worried about the fact that we didn't have a "for sure" girl name and that if #2 was a boy I wouldn't get to use Merit, the name I loved most.

I was most worried about the possibility of #2 being a boy. What would that mean for Annabeth? Since she is a girl I felt like she needed a sister. I have a sister and with just 2.5 years between us we have always been close. We are extremely different but our shared upbringing makes us close. She is the only other person who shares so many of my experiences and memories. What would Annabeth do without a sister?!

That being said, from the first day we told Annabeth we were expecting #2 she said "It's a boy baby! He is my Owen!" She never wavered from that. She never accepted the possibility of a sister or of any girl names. To her #2 was always a boy and always Owen.

She was mildly interested in the ultrasound process and after the first thing we saw on the screen was boy parts she spent the rest of the time gloating. "I told you he a boy! He my Owen!"

After Owen was born, she spent many of his first months ignoring him but her love for him was always evident. She always talks about things they will do "when Owen is a toddler" and has enjoyed helping him learn to eat from a spoon and to crawl. She always thinks of him first and will check in on him all the time.

Yesterday as we were leaving dance class, we saw a hawk in the trees. She was so excited jumping up and down and then she yelled, "Look Owen! See the hawk! Do you see it Bubbas?!" and then to me "Get a picture! It is Owen's first time seeing a hawk on Tuesday!" I had thought she was excited about the hawk but she was more excited about sharing the moment with Owen.

I find myself tearful quite often at how much she loves her brother and at how much he loves her back. He spends his whole day watching her and working to crawl to where ever she is. He loves to hold her hand and pat her back. He will do anything that she asks. If he cannot see her, he looks and looks until he finds her. He even makes a word that sounds very much like "Anna" which he uses anytime he sees her.

To watch my children together is such an incredible blessing. I am so thankful that even though I thought she needed a sister, the Lord knew she had to have Owen.

1st  Matching Outfits
July 2015

Helping him learn to eat baby food.
She was so proud to be allowed to feed him. 

They are always together.
They cannot be close enough, long enough.  

 "The greatest gift our parents gave us was
each other." 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Frugal Friday 130

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- The kids and I painted Valentines for Mark. Annabeth made Frozen ones and Owen and I painted hearts. We also hand wrote thank yous for our Valentines and my birthday gifts.

 Our sweet boy loves to paint - and chew on paintbrushes. 

- We have continued our commitment to not eat out for the month of February. That being said, I REALLY enjoyed having my family in town and being taken out to eat for my birthday weekend.

- My mama made some new curtains for our back door. She repurposed scarves and made them into beautiful curtains. Thank you!

- I did use my free birthday drink from Starbucks. I figured this wasn't really eating out since it was totally free and I did not buy anything while there. Saved: $5.45

- We made our third trip to the library this month and earned hot chocolate mix and popcorn as our prizes. Since we do not have a microwave we shared the popcorn with friends and enjoyed the hot chocolate ourselves.

- We received our Ebates checks for this quarter. Between Mark and I, we made nearly $50 back just by shopping online through Ebates! We will add this money to savings.

- I worked on consignment sale items for the spring sale. Now that the spare bedroom is Owen's room I am having to redo how I organize for the sale. Dad brought a ton of wire hangers for me and I am thankful to not have to purchase any for this sale! Thank you Dad!

- We met friends at the mall on Thursday. I planned the day so that we would eat lunch at home and packed a special snack. We did not get lunch or snacks at the mall as we often do. This took a lot of willpower.

We had another busy week of school and cleaning projects around the house. Many friends are doing consignment sales this spring and their hard work on theirs is encouraging me to get going on mine!

We hope you all had a wonderful week as well!

Happy Savings to All!

Sunday, February 14, 2016


How is that possible?
As of today, I am just one year away from 30!

I had a wonderful birthday weekend!

The kids and I cleaned the house and did five loads of laundry so I wouldn't have much to do all weekend except maintain what was already done. Mama, Dad, and Lu came up after Lu got off work and got in after 9. Annabeth was SO excited and stayed up to welcome them!

We had a quick breakfast at home but took a while to get everyone ready so we ended up in Columbus at lunch time. We enjoyed lunch at Puccini's Smiling Teeth Pizza - so yummy! Then we went next door to let Annabeth play at the Commons playground. I thought this was a good plan because it is fairly empty after lunch during the week. However, on a very cold Saturday it was packed! She quickly was over it and so we left after a short while. Mama and Dad went on a secret mission to Hobby Lobby and Lu and I took the kids home. We all met back at the house and they spent the afternoon working on a secret project in the school room. Owen and I played in the living room while Mama made new curtains for our back doors.

**When we moved into our house we were very lucky in that nearly all of the windows had mini blinds that were in good shape. My parents had an extra set of curtains from their front room that worked for our school room and we moved the kitchen curtains from the old house to complete all of our windows here. We have a little curtain panel on the window next to the front door. It was left by the previous owner and looks nice. Then there were the back curtains. They were made of this very ugly, very thick fabric. I have always hated them but have never found any curtains in the stores that I liked better. However, Mama has always kept them in the back of her mind and found a creative solution for us! She bought two scarves (at a buy one, get one free sale) and made them into beautiful curtains! I love them so much!! Thank you Mama for thinking of this and for making them.**

 Since it was my birthday weekend I was allowed to pick dinner. I chose Tom's Pancake House which is a new place in town that both Annabeth and I love and I really wanted to take them to. We got to Tom's only to find out that they close at 3 pm. So, we ended up eating sushi next door. It was, as always, really good and was a great substitute for pancake dinner. We all headed to Walmart after dinner for Grandpa and Annabeth to look at some toys and for me to pick up a few grocery items that we truly needed. Back home for movie night.

Valentine's Day/My 29th Birthday!
We got all of us up and ready for church. I was so thankful we made it because our friends Chris and Cindy were in town and came with Cindy's mom Miss Teri to church. We always love to see them, especially now that they have sweet baby Abigail. After church we had lunch at FlapJack's in Greenwood (Tom's Pancake House with a different name) It was wonderful and just as I thought my family loved it. As we ate lunch, the snow began to come down. We went back to the house and opened Valentine's and birthday gifts. I was so excited to get lots of new items for the kitchen and also some new PJ pants and some new jeans.

I also opened the finished product of the secret Hobby Lobby trip and afternoon crafting. Annabeth painted me a special key hook with all of our names on it. This was a very special item for me because it's the first thing like this that I have received as a Mama AND I made one for my Dad as a child with the help of my grandparents. It was special to know that she had continued that tradition and made it for me with her grandparents.

Mama, Dad, and Lu left right after the gifts to get on the road to try to stay ahead of the snow. The 2.5 hour trip ended up taking them over 5 hours due to snowy roads. We are so thankful that they got home safely!

Mark had been gone all week at a class for work and arrived home late afternoon. We gave the kids their Valentines (new books) from us and we all gave Mark the Valentines that we painted for him.

What better Valentine gift than new books to read?

They gave me my birthday gift (a Mama Bear/Bear cub tshirt set for Owen and me to wear)! I was so excited for this gift as I have been eyeing them on Pinterest and without even telling Mark he knew I would like them! Apparently I have a gift coming from Annabeth as well! I look forward to having an extra gift to open in a few weeks! :) Our other birthday tradition is that we always make each other a special birthday dinner. This year I requested Mark's awesome biscuits and gravy! So good!

I am so thankful for another year of life and pray that I will use it for His glory.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Frugal Friday 129

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money/spent money wisely:

- Saturday we renewed our Sam's Club membership (for FREE thanks to a gift card from Mark's parents for Christmas) and were gifted a cart of groceries from my parents for my birthday. Thank you all!

- Sunday we hosted Mark's family for Superbowl. Mark made homemade chili and cornbread. We froze some of the leftovers and sent some home with his parents.

- We also celebrated my birthday and Valentine's Day with his family that night. They brought a 5 lb double decker cookie cake. It was wonderful but also HUGE!! We sent some home with them and then Monday morning I cut a lot of it up into cute little pieces and placed on a tray for Mark to take to work.

- Monday we had a "fashion show" and Annabeth tried on her clothes from last summer. All that are too small or getting too small were entered online for the spring consignment sale. I still have more than two totes in the garage to get entered but it felt good to get started.

- We visited the Eblings on Thursday. Asher is now one and not eating as much baby food. They sent home a whole bag for Owen. Thank you!!

- We stopped at the outlet mall on the way home from Louisville to spend a $20 off $20 purchase coupon. I was able to get each of the kids two shirts for less than the price of one! What a deal!

- Annabeth and I are reading the Samantha series from American Girl. We brought the books back from my parents attic and it thrilled me when she wanted to read them with me. I love spending as much time with my girl as I can!

We had a busy week at home. Mr. O is crawling and getting into everything! Annabeth was 22 months when we moved into this house so it's the first time we have had a crawler here and we are having to constantly make adjustments to how we use space and store things up out of his way. Thankfully he listens very well and is learning to respond correctly to "no" quite well.

So thankful for these precious baby days. 

We hope you all had a wonderful week well!

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Frugal Friday 128

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I returned a Christmas gift that I will not wear. With the store credit I was able to purchase a bottle of hair product that I love! Saved: $21.50

- I combined a gift card and coupon to buy Owen a box of diapers for just $.24 OOP! Thank you to Uncle John for the gift card! :)

- We received a FREE bottle of shampoo to review from PinchMe!

- We went to our friend Asher's Super 1st Birthday on Saturday. Rose made awesome capes and masks for all of the kids. Annabeth really loved hers and she and Owen were superheroes all week long!

Super Annabeth and Super Owen!

- I used a $10 reward in my e-mail to buy some clothing basics online. By using the reward and going through Ebates I saved more than I would have by just going to the store. It was also much easier than taking the kids out for these items.

- The kids and I signed up for Winter Reading at the library. The first prizes are little trinkets - which Annabeth loves. But I am excited that if we go to the library four times we will be entered in a drawing for a family membership to a local attraction! We have never won any of the grand prizes but it is fun to think about winning it!

- I took three big boxes of things to donate at Goodwill. The great clean-out continues!

- I purchased a container of decaf coffee and soy creamer at the grocery store. (Owen does not tolerate dairy well and cannot have caffeine at all) This will help me stay away from the coffee shops and will save us lots of money!

- I sewed up holes in 4 of Annabeth's stuffed animals.

- Mark worked one night at his part time job.

- Last but not least, we have committed to not eating out as much in the month of February. (We will make an exception for my birthday and Mama's Morning Out for coffee) We have been eating out WAY more than usual the past few months and while it's been in the budget, it's hurting our waistlines and our potential savings. I hope to figure out a rough amount of what we "might" have spent and we will make an extra Principal payment on our mortgage with that amount.

We had a great week getting lots of projects done around the house AND Owen began crawling! He is now a "real" little brother who loves getting into his sister's things and pestering her all day long. I love watching my children together because at the end of the day they love each other so much.

Happy Savings to All!