Friday, July 29, 2016

Frugal Friday 153

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Saturday morning we enjoyed a FREE breakfast for Law Enforcement Officers and their families at the Legion in Franklin. Our family was thankful for the wonderful breakfast and support of local law enforcement.

- Annabeth and I enjoyed Saturday evening at the pool for just $2. We went in after 5 pm (when everyone is just $2/person) and I had a FREE children's entry coupon.

- Monday night Annabeth and I enjoyed a FREE night at the pool as part of a birthday party. Thank you to Drew Sherry for the invitation to his 3rd birthday! We had so much fun!

- We took advantage of Kids Eat Free Tuesdays at Chilli's and Mr. O had his first kids meal! A big moment! We saved: $9.98!

- Mark and Annabeth picked out a new, larger fish tank and a new fish for our family. Our first 8 fish have all died this summer and, after a lot of research, we are hoping that we have figured out how to be better fish owners. We gave our old tank and supplies to Mark's mom who works in a school office. We know the kids and staff at Trinity will enjoy a fish in the office!

Mark and Owen checking out our new fish tank.
We all love to watch our fish swim

- Mark worked one night at his part time job.

- Mark brought home food left over from scout summer camp. He brought: one bag of cereal, 3 lbs of bologna, 2 lbs of American cheese slices, one bag of Doritos, one unopened syrup and one box of pancake mix! This will feed us quite a few different meals! We love free!

- As we were leaving the dentist office on Thursday, Pam Parker from JP Parker Florist was taking an arrangement in. Annabeth's eyes lit up because she loves flowers. The two of them talked flowers for a few moments. Then as Ms. Parker left, she got a beautiful arrangement out of her van and gave it to Annabeth. It made Annabeth's day so special! Thank to JP Parker Flowers!

 Thank you JP Parker Flowers!
These made our day!

We had a great second week of school and are looking forward to a busy weekend with the Rileys.

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Frugal Friday 152

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Saturday morning we helped fill the Weekend Meal Bags at Franklin Church of God. We took my parents along too and all enjoyed some bag filling and fellowship.

- We all went to the Franklin Farmer's Market afterwards. We enjoyed Snow Cones and looking at all the booths. We had lunch at Benjamin's Coffeehouse and then made the free craft at Toodleydoo Toy Store. That is my favorite kind of Saturday!

Literally the best ever!

- Mark worked every day and every night this week. He is worn out and looking forward to some rest this weekend!

- My Momaw sent us home with a bag of greeting cards and wrapping paper. I am now pretty much set for the next 20 birthdays and most of our Christmas wrapping.

- Sunday we took a 3 mile hike through town. We enjoyed walking through the park, Franklin College, and along some of the old houses. We used to walk some of this trail when we were first dating in the fall of 2006. We always love to walk together.

- I used Groupon for the first time! I had a $10 Starbucks card for $5 in my e-mail. I redeemed the Groupon offer and went through Ebates for 6% cashback!

- We have been enjoying in-town-hikes as a family as we have been limited to where we can take the stroller/how far I can carry Owen in the Ergo. I asked friends on Facebook what they recommended for longer hikes and for a carrier that Mark could use. A friend sent me a link to a Kelty carrier for sale through a local garage sale page. It is in great condition, having only been used one time. We saved $200 off the sticker price and the seller even delivered it to our door!

Annabeth taking her Belle doll on a little hike.
We cannot wait to get out on the trails with Owen in the Kelty!

- One of the lessons we are working on in our Little Keepers of the Home, is a puzzle lesson. We did not have a 50 piece puzzle, so instead of buying one new, or risking buying a used one without all the pieces, we borrowed one from a friend.

Frugal Fail:
- I "splurged" and purchased new tennis shoes. I have been wearing the same tennis shoes for 4.5 years, since right after Annabeth was born. I used to wear an 8.5, then after having Annabeth I moved up to a 9, and apparently Owen has made me a 9.5. I hate to spend money on myself but I have been getting some killer blisters on our hikes and walks. I did managed to find a pair on clearance + extra 20% off at the outlet mall.

We had a great week back-to-school and are in the process of trying to figure out what to do this weekend. It is supposed to be HOT!! 

Happy Savings to All!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Annabeth's First Day of Kindergarten

Today is Annabeth's First Day of Kindergarten.

Many of you may be thinking...
It's only July!
What about summer break?!
She is only 4! She cannot be ready for Kindergarten!
You are not even a trained teacher. How can you teach her?

I will answer those questions (and more!) here:

-- Why today? It's only July!
We have been out of school since mid-May and 8 weeks seems to have been a long enough summer for Annabeth. She has been asking to return to formal school for weeks now.
I have found, by starting late July/early August, the past few years that it helps our family schedule. This allows us lots of days before we seem to get really busy in October and need some time off. It also allows us to take Mark's days off from work (often Mondays/Tuesdays because of the holiday schedule) off from school as well.

-- What about summer break?! What have you been doing all summer?
As I mentioned above, we have been out of school for 8 weeks. She has enjoyed two months of pure summer!
In June, we celebrated Owen's first birthday and Annabeth's third dance recital. We have enjoyed our summer outside. Annabeth loves her pool, the sprinkler, and water table. We have been visiting different parks and pools. We have been playing with friends and enjoying lots of time with family.

-- Did you do any school this summer?
We have taken a break from formal school since mid-May. That being said, we have been doing lots of fun handwriting practice, puzzles, outdoor science things, and we have been reading SO much! Annabeth has logged nearly 25 hours for the library's summer reading program since the first week of June. We have also really enjoyed reading through one of our Children's Bibles. Last night we read one of my favorite stories about the woman who gave her two coins, all that she had. We look forward to continuing to read it until we finish.

-- Why Kindergarten? She is only 4!
That is true. She is only 4 BUT she has an early fall birthday and falls within two months of the cut-off date (Aug. 1 here in Indiana)
We did two full years of preschool and one full year of Pre-K at home. She has logged nearly 425 official homeschool days. When I looked at a second year of Pre-K it just seemed like we would be repeating what we have already done. While I understand the importance of review, I also want to challenge her. One of the major benefits of homeschooling is that I tailor what I teach to what she needs/wants to learn right now. I don't have to worry about a classroom filled with children or what other children are/aren't able to do - I just focus on what Annabeth can do. I can teach exactly what she needs to know next and we can work on it all in her own time and at her own pace.

-- Are you using a curriculum?
Yes. And no.
We are using AOP Horizons Kindergarten Health, Math, and Reading/Phonics.
We are using Little Keepers of the Home for lifeskills.
I will add in art, history, music, and science from other sources.

-- What if she isn't ready for 1st grade at the end of this year?
This is a question asked by people who were raised/are raising their children in brick and mortar schools. Grades are assigned in school to group children together by age so that teachers have one age group within their classroom. Within each grade, each classroom, there is a wide range of abilities. Student "A" may be in 3rd grade because they are 9 but may read at a 5th grade level and do math at a 2nd grade level but are still in grade 3. We will follow that same guideline in our home - she will move from grade to grade but the work we do will be based on ability. That being said, I understand the importance at keeping her as close to "grade level" as I can in the event that she does transition to a brick and mortar school at some point.

-- What are the advantages of continuing to educate Annabeth at home?
We have seen so much progress in Annabeth! We love to teach her and we love to learn alongside her. We love the family aspect of homeschooling and that we are all four able to learn and grow together. We pray that in their years at home together, Owen and Annabeth will develop a special, deep bond.
Annabeth is creative, energetic, excited, hands-on, and has a difficult time focusing while sitting still. Annabeth also takes time to warm up to certain things and likes to have lots of time to think about things. She likes to work through things on her own. She prefers to create in the morning and to focus on more serious things (like math or bookwork) in the afternoon. We feel that Annabeth has such a special, sensitive spirit and we do not think that a classroom setting would be ideal. We worry that the wrong teacher might misunderstand her or take away the things that we think are so special about Annabeth.

-- You are not a trained teacher? How will you teach advanced math and science?
Correct. I am not a trained teacher. I have a BA in Psychology. During college, I worked at a Vietnamese after school program and subbed in public and private schools. Other than that, none of mys schooling or work experience is in the classroom. That being said, I am not attempting to run a school classroom. I am running a homeschool.
As for teaching advance math and sciences, that is MANY years in the future. We do not know where God will lead us between now and then. All we know is that right now, this year, we feel that our family should still be learning at home. We will worry about the rest as it comes.

All in all, I am SO excited four our FOURTH year of homeschool!
I have really enjoyed teaching pre-school and am looking forward to being a Kindergarten teacher this year!
I am thankful that our children are spaced enough that we will have one more year of just Annabeth doing formal school before I have both of them doing formal schoolwork. I am also excited to have a year off from teaching formal pre-school! I think I will be better for it when Owen begins 2-year-old preschool next fall.

We are so thankful for the family and friends in our life who are excited and supportive of our decision to homeschool. We thank God daily for the blessing of being a homeschooling family and for the wonderful support we receive from the homeschool families that we are friends with.

First Day of School Picture.
We love watching our little tree and little girl grow together!
Annabeth is so happy in her new dress from our first back-to-school shopping trip.
Both Mark and I grew up going back to school shopping with our Grandmothers 
and enjoyed taking her together this year :) 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Frugal Friday 151

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Mark has been gone all week, since Friday evening, at summer camp with his scout troop. The kids and I were gone Friday morning to Tuesday evening. We hope that we will notice a savings on our electric and water bills as no one was home to use those utilities for 4.5 days.

- While in Evansville, my family had a garage sale at my sister's house. We all cleaned out closets and she listed the sale on Craig's List. We were open 7 - noon on Saturday and made around $250. Annabeth had a toy sale and lemonade stand. She earned $14. She used half to buy a new toy she has been wanting and used half to buy food for the weekend meal bags.

Our lemonade girl! Up at 6 am and ready to sell!  

- On Sunday, LucyAnne and I took Annabeth to Lloyd Pool in Evansville. We like Lloyd because it is indoors and we love not having to worry about sunburns! Evansville city pools are much less expensive than our pools here. All three of us were able to swim for just $8.50.

- Monday afternoon, Dad and I took Annabeth to Legion Park in Owensboro. It has recently been redone and is wonderful! Owensboro has excellent parks and we loved this new playground complete with splash pad and zipline. We also enjoyed a great visit with Momaw. She made my favorite foods for lunch and I am always so inspired by her hospitality. She knows just how to make everyone feel special.

Owen, "helping" Momaw organize her kitchen drawers. 

- I am SO thankful for my parents and sister and all of their help this week!! They really spoiled us as we enjoyed staying with them Friday - Tuesday and hosting them Tuesday - tomorrow. We were thankful to have so many good eat-out meals and help with the kids! Thank you all!

- Wednesday we enjoyed a trip to a local firehouse as a homeschool group field trip.

- Thursday the kids and I drove to visit Mark at summer camp. They had not really seen him since the 4th and were missing him very badly. We enjoyed three hours of fishing and family time.

- Owen received a packages of FREE goodies from Target - a package of wipes and a few snacks. Thank you Target Registry!

We had a great week with my family but I am looking forward to having Mark home tomorrow.

Happy Savings to All! 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Frugal Friday 150

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Mark, Annabeth, and Mark's mom enjoyed lunch out at Olive Garden using a gift card. Annabeth is always asking to go to Olive Garden so for Father's Day I got them a gift card. They also used a $2 off coupon. Mark enjoyed lunch with two of his favorite ladies.

- Saturday and Sunday we enjoyed walks at the nature trail around our local high school. The trail is 2.25 miles and we had a great time! Saturday was cool and cloudy so we all four went. Sunday was drizzly so just Mark and Annabeth had a special date walk.

Rain Walk. 
Photo Credit: M. Riley

- Monday we cooked out for Mark's family to celebrate the 4th of July. We enjoyed cook-out leftovers for two extra meals as well.

- Mark needed a new grate for his grill so we did our cook-out shopping trip at Walmart. We received $2.35 back through Savings Catcher.

- I washed and organized some hand-me-downs that we were given for Owen. He has plenty of summer/winter clothes in 2T and 3T! Thank you to everyone who has shared.

- On Tuesday, Annabeth and I did some organizing in the garage. Mark took a carload of things to a dumpster that we have access to. We saved the junkyard fee and cleared up some much needed space!

- I sold two outfits of Annbeth's on Facebook. Sold to a local friend so no shipping costs Made: $15

- Sold an item for a friend. She had posted something another friend would love so I put the two in touch. Made her $15.

- Mark worked a shift at his part time job. Mark also worked overtime at his day job.

- The kids and I attended a Piggie and Gerald read-aloud at our library. I had SO much fun doing the voices! Annabeth loved it and we enjoyed seeing friends there too!

- The front brakes in our car went out. Mark was able to replace them for $170. We would have had to pay around $500 at a shop. We are thankful that by planning ahead we are able to pay cash (without dipping into our actual emergency fund) for emergencies like these. I am also so thankful that Mark has taken the time to learn from others how to complete jobs like this. Saved: $330!!

- Mark had his truck towed from his parents to a friend's house so they can continue the work in his shop. The tow company is one that Mark works with often for work and did not charge for the tow!
(The driver is paid an hourly wage by his tow company and was compensated by them.)

We had a great week and REALLY enjoyed seeing K.E.N. twice in one week! I love having my nieces and nephew back in town!

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Frugal Friday 149

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last Friday, I took Owen to his first library class just for him. He enjoyed making a painting with golf balls and paint. It was so fun to watch Annabeth help him and for him to have his own class.

- Friday night, Mark and Annabeth camped out in the backyard. It was Annabeth's first time tent camping outside and she loved it! It was a fun, free way to make memories.

Both of the kids enjoyed playing on the airmattress after it came back
inside after Mark and Annabeth's camp-out. I love to watch
our kids giggle and play together! 

- We got the mail for our neighbors when they were out of town. They visited Amish Country and brought us back a handmade towel as a thank you. We were most appreciative.

- Saturday morning, Annabeth and I went to her friends' free dance recital. Annabeth's recital was last week but she didn't actually get to see any of the dances. The O'Neals invited us to theirs and we really enjoyed seeing all of the dances.

- We went for a Saturday drive and Mark surprised us by letting us stop in Hobby Lobby - one of my favorite places! I was able to get part of a birthday gift and new note cards for FREE thanks to a 40% off coupon and the remainder of a gift card.

- We sold our elliptical machine, we got it for free a few years ago so the sale was total profit. We hope our friend will use it more than we did, which was basically never. We added the $50 to Annabeth's dance fund to help pay for next year's classes.

- Annabeth took her second year of swimming lessons this week. We were so pleased that her teacher from last summer was available again this summer. We were able to get five 30 minute one-on-one classes for just $50. This is a great deal in our area and Annabeth absolutely loved the lessons. She even achieved her personal goal of jumping off the side of the pool and swimming underwater without help.

- I shipped a few hand-me-downs from Owen to baby Paul. Paul is the soon-to-arrive son of my college roommate. I was so happy to send him some outfits I don't need to keep but couldn't stand to just give away. There is also a great UofL onesie in the package.

- I received two 40% off your order offers from Shutterfly. I shared them on Facebook so someone else can enjoy some savings!

We had a great, hot week and are REALLY looking forward to the arrival of the rest of the South Dakota Rileys this weekend. Now we just  have to figure out what to call them since we'll all be Indiana Rileys again! :)

Happy Savings to All!