Sunday, December 31, 2017

My 12 Favorite Pictures of 2017

As I look through pictures and I loved reflecting on the year. It never feels "that long" but when I see the changes in the kids from January to December it's amazing just how much can happen in one year!

Here is our 2017 in My 12 Favorite Pictures:

I love this picture of Owen and me dancing in the living room.
O has always loved music and dancing. He is such a joy! 

After a year and a half of saving, we made it to Tybee Island, GA for my 
30th birthday. We spent a beautiful week on the beach. The Crab Shack was our favorite
place to eat - so much so we ate there twice! 

This was Annabeth's very first dance competition.
She was happy to dance, to be with her friends, and most of all
that Mark was able to come for the whole day!

Annabeth and I had a special date and went to Under the Big Top
at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis. It was so fun to have dinner at the museum
after closing and to enjoy a real circus show. Annabeth loved having the whole circus exhibit
closed off to us! 

This was our 8th Wedding Anniversary. We had a great weekend away in Brown
County this weekend before. Mark took the day off work and we ended up home
with two kids with the stomach flu. Dinner out turned into dinner at home with both
kids sick on the couch and a dining room full of ants. I wouldn't want to do life
with anyone else!

Father's Day 2017
Mark and my Dad chose Sunday Sundaes for Father's Day Lunch.
Annabeth approved!

Annabeth and I were headed out to her Company Celebration Dinner for dance. 
She has the most beautiful eyes!

This was the month that Owen began calling Annabeth "Gaga" 
and began needing to be with her all the time. 

Annabeth did a cheer clinic at our local high school and was able
to cheer at a football game. She looked so cute in her bow and Owen was ready too
in his football helmet print shirt and bear hat 
(The high school in our town is the Grizzly Cubs)

Fireman O and Miss Peacock Annabeth had a great Halloween!

We were in Cincinnati for a cousin's wedding. It was Owen's first trip to
Ohio and we had such a fun time celebrating. 

Annabeth and I had another special date day and went to a Princess Ball.
She cried "happy tears" when she met her favorite princess, Princess Tiana. 

I am so thankful for this year. I am thankful that we had it to live and that we had it together.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Top 5 Most Read Posts of 2017

First of all, thank YOU all for reading each week! I am so grateful for all of the readership and support we receive through this blog. This year I have posted more than ever and much of that is thanks to your interest!

Here were our Top 5 Most Read Posts of 2017:

#5 Striving to Create Blank Space in Our Home. This post featured the inspiration for our big overhaul of the way we live as we strive to have less and to enjoy it all more!

#4 6 Years. This was Annabeth's Birthday post this year. I am so thankful for God's provision and for the incredible blessing of our Miracle Girl.

#3 Our Big, Scary Financial Goal for 2018. In an effort to continue being transparent about our Debt Free Journey I shared our big goal for next year. Thank you to everyone who responded with their own goals!

#2 Carseat Poncho Review. Our dear friend Kelly at Heavenbound HCA gave us a carseat poncho to reveiw and enjoy. It's been keeping the kids warm, and stylish, and we are so thankful for such a beautiful gift!

#1 Food Allergy Mama. This post was really more of me journaling, trying to say what I was feeling and you all took it and responded so beautifully! Thank you for everyone who sent prayers, who shared this post, and who supported me as I processed this new stage of life. Our number six most read post was the follow up to this one - How Seeing My Daughter's Allergist Changed My Life.

Again, THANK YOU to all of you who come every week to share Frugal Fridays with us, 
who send messages of encouragement, and who are all part of our little family's life. 
We are so grateful for each of you!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Frugal Friday 225

Happy Last Frugal Friday of 2017!

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

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

- Last week, Annabeth enjoyed her dance company's Christmas party. The studio supplies all of the food and fun we just took a $5 gift to trade. Annabeth chose to give a JoJo Bow as they are very popular right now. We had so much fun watching the talent show and she had fun dancing with her friends. She received her company picture and shirt as Christmas gifts.

- Annabeth had a very bad ear infection and her eardrum ruptured. They asked us not to spend time out in the cold and wind until it had some time to heal. Mark bought her a simple black outdoor headband to cover her ears. I added two flower appliques to make it more fancy for her. I used some from my collection from Grandma Chico. I love to add things from her to my kids' things. It's like having a little piece of her with us always.

- We spent Saturday-Tuesday in Evansville with my family. We were able to see many of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. It was wonderful to celebrate in the house I grew up in. The kids received tons of fun gifts and we loved gifting everyone as well!

My sister and I grew up taking "Santa Pictures" with this Santa poster
and now the kids do the same. I love how much they love each other! 

- My parents sent us home with lots of snacks and breakfast food for the week. That helped our grocery bill! Thank you!

- We did our weekly shopping trip when we got back. We spent $75.49 on groceries for the week (which also included two rolls of wrapping paper for next year, laundry detergent, and 2 Christmas gifts) When we got home, I realized a sale item had not rung up on sale. I had purchased two of them so I went back and was refunded $3.80. The two Christmas gifts we will gift this weekend and with a store sale + coupon I was able to get two for the price of one! :)

- It got really, really cold this week! I was extra thankful that the kids got so many activities for Christmas. Annabeth spent hours building with Legos, Owen played with his police and fire garage and house, and we all played the LOL Doll game about 50 times.

- On the way home from Evansville, I broke my sunglasses. I have been wearing them since 2009! I am super picky about the size, shape, color, jewels, etc on sunglasses and have only ever owned three pairs as a result. So, needless to say I was really upset that they broke. Thank goodness for a clean break and some awesome super glue because I got them back to "new" again. A penny saved is a penny earned.

Seriously, I have had them forever - here Mark and I are 
in Brown County (with the shades on) in November 2009. 

After we got home from Evansville, we spent the week taking down Christmas decorations, putting up our snow decorations, writing Thank Yous, and of course playing with all of the kids' new toys. After all of the new stuff comes in, even though I have done quite a bit of cleaning out already, I always get a bit antsy. I expect next week we will do some big clean outs again.

I am looking forward to 2018 and to achieving our Big, Scary Financial Goal.
What are your $$ plans for 2018?
Happy New Year and Happy Savings to All!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

"At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on usgenerously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:3-7

Friday, December 22, 2017

Frugal Friday 224

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Mark worked at his part-time job and worked overtime. His part-time job gave their annual Christmas gift - a $10 grocery card.

- Saturday morning we had "Christmas Morning" at our house. The kids each were happy to get lots of books, pajamas, and their #1 wish toys. We spent the rest of the day reading and playing. Mark did get called out Saturday afternoon but we were happy to have about six hours to celebrate Christmas together.

- On Sunday, Mark's parents brought over pizza for lunch. The kids had a great time showing them their Christmas presents and putting on a dance show.

- Both of the kids, especially poor Owen, were sick from Friday on. Annabeth took a turn for the worse Wednesday evening. We are thankful to live in a place where we have access to healthcare and for the part of prescriptions that our insurance covers.

- A few weeks ago, my friend Ann tagged me in a contest on Lula Roe's website and...WE WON!! Ann, our friend Katelyn, and myself all won 2 pieces for our girls from the new "Elegant" collection. The company even mailed them to us for free!! The two pieces are a $94 value! Thank you Ann and Lula Roe! (If you are in the market for new Lula Roe please visit my friend Jenni Bear :) It will be such a blessing for her little family)

The silver and black piece is a dress and the gold/multi colored piece
is a long jacket. Annabeth loves both of them especially the "Wizard Robe"
They are too big now but she looks forward to wearing them next winter.

- I hosted a Pampered Chef party this month. Thanks to family and friends' orders I was able to get $60 worth of products for $20 shipped! I got two glassware storage containers, an icing spreader, and a spatula for a friend. I was very glad to have hosted this party!

Our week ended up with lots of canceled plans and low-key time at home. We are praying that the kids feel better by Christmas Eve!

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas! Happy Savings to All! 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Frugal Friday 223

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- The part for our dryer came in and Mark was able to fix it over the weekend. We saved hundreds by not having to have a professional service call or having to buy a new dryer.

- Saturday we attended our church's Breakfast With Jesus and Santa. We have treated Mark's parents to this special event every year since Annabeth was born. We all love seeing the live Nativity!

- Annabeth and I went to a friend's house Saturday evening to make gingerbread houses. Sarah gave us some lessons about cake decorating and icing piping and we all enjoyed visiting with making the houses. The Dines provided the gingerbread houses and frosting (all homemade!) and we brought the candy decorations. It was so much fun!

- Sunday afternoon we went to three birthday parties! Annabeth enjoyed time at the gym and her first time roller skating for two dance friends' birthdays. Mark and Owen went to our dear friends the O'Neals to celebrate their youngest's 2nd birthday. They had a chilli dinner and a cake that Owen talked about for days!

- Sunday evening, after the birthday fun, Mark went over to a friends and was able to fix her dryer for free! She had posted on Facebook that her dryer had quit working. I messaged and told her Mark had just fixed ours, did she want him to look at hers before she called a service company. Mark ran over and was able to get it working again. I am so thankful to have a husband who always says "yes" to serving others. His example of God's love never ceases to amaze me.

- The kids had their Fall Gymnastics Spectacular on Tuesday morning. Our dance studio does such a great job of helping each child showcase their skills.  Miss Kari also had a nice little snack station set up and the kids loved sharing snacks with their friends. Our sweet friend Katelyn also brought everyone donuts and took the time to find GF/Nut Free donuts for the kids and let us bring home the extras! Thank you!

They were both so excited to earn their first medal!
Owen wore his around the house all week!

- We continued cleaning out around the house. I went through two sections of my closet and was able to part with three items. Annabeth, on her own, went through things in her room and is ready to get rid of two stuffed animals. We'll keep cleaning and organizing as I strive for blank space in our home.

- Last night we went to Mark's Dad's work for their Christmas party. The kids loved hanging out with Nana, PawPaw, and their cousins. They made a craft and brought some home to make too. Owen loved that PawPaw's work had cranes!

We are looking forward to "Christmas morning" tomorrow at our house and a weekend with nothing on the calendar! Praise God for quiet time as the four of us!

Happy Savings to All! 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Striving for Blank Space in our Home

A few months ago, I read an article or blog post about Americans and our fear of white, or blank, spaces. The article was part of a post about decluttering and why so many struggle to let go of things. It discussed how, Americans especially, have this fear of "running out." So, when our fridge begins to show some white spaces, we rush to the store because "we have nothing to eat." When people clean out drawers and closets, they often can't enjoy them unless they are packed full otherwise people are left with a feeling of not having enough.

I found myself thinking about this article more and more. And I think it's true! My gift wrap tote three gift wrap totes is probably my best evidence of this. Who on earth needs three totes of gift wrap?! I justify it with "well, I'll never have to buy gift wrap" and tell myself it's okay because "I didn't buy any of this!" Which is true! It's all from Grandma, Momaw, and gift bags/paper that we have received in the past. I never buy any kind of gift wrapping. But sometimes when I wrap, I get a little anxious about using up some of my stash. It's ridiculous - I have enough gift wrap for the next twenty years but I "just don't want to run out." After coming to terms with this while wrapping some October birthday gifts, I realized that article was 100% true! I don't like the feeling of running out or not having enough or not being prepared.

So...this fall I have given myself the challenge of creating blank and white spaces in our home. It's a long, slow, hard process and with three other people in our house I cannot just get rid of half of everything and call it a day. But I am making small little strides and it feels so good!

For example, I have been working on our kitchen cabinets. Mark and I both are always frustrated with our cluttered cabinets so last week I took a morning and we did a huge clean out. Now they aren't overflowing, and guess what, it's okay! We still have plenty of cups and cookbooks - and, even better, we have SPACE!

 Nothing was in the dishwasher and we still had free space!
Our cookbook cabinet. We finally just have 
the ones that we use. I was able to let go of ones that I was holding
onto because "they were a gift, I can't get rid of them"

Another area where we currently have a lot of white space, is Owen's room. He has a 6 compartment storage unit in his room and currently three of the six are completely empty. No overflow of toys or books there. He is still young enough that I clean out all of his toys by myself and I know from Annabeth, it's much easier to part with things before he has an opinion. 

We have a lot of work to do and plenty of clutter filled spaces - our master bedroom is a crazy storage unit at the moment. But each week I am tackling at least one small space and one larger space. We are hosting a Junk Exchange in January and I gave myself the goal of adding one item a day to the "junk tote" before the event. So far I've been holding to it and it feels good!

What areas are you cleaning out? Do you fear white space? 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Frugal Friday 222

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I had an Usborne party and Mark worked at both of his part time jobs.

- Mperks at Meijer had a FREE Hot Wheels car in our online coupons. We were very excited as this is Owen's current favorite thing!

- My sister came to visit from last Thursday to Sunday. We enjoyed taking her to lots of our favorite local places - the library, the Johnson County Museum of History, downtown Franklin to some of our favorite shops and for the holiday lighting, and even to Kroger to enjoy lunch there (one of our kids favorite activities!) We enjoyed local meals at Greek's Pizza and Tom's Pancake House. Our favorite thing was the Live Nativity downtown - we didn't even know it was there! Everyone loved seeing the live animals and especially the very loud camel!

Owen loved petting this little baby goat
 In the auditorium at the Johnson County Museum of History,
local organizations have decorated trees that the public can vote on.
The winner will receive a grant.
Annabeth chose the Magic Schoolbus tree by the Friends of JCPL. 

- Mark and I attended the Johnson County Republican Women's Christmas Dinner. Thank you to Kirby Cochran for Sheriff for our tickets. We had a lovely dinner and enjoyed seeing the installation of the new officers for the next two years.

We are proud to support local Republicans and are thankful
for their conservative leadership. 

- Our friend Kelley brought over some great homeschool supplies for Annabeth. They are for 2nd-4th(ish) grades so I enjoyed looking through them and plan to store them to use in the years to come. She also brought some fun activity books - I kept some and we added some to the collection we have going for The Cheer Guild at Riley Children's Hospital.

- Last month, I created the event page for our annual junk exchange. I started it about 60 days out to give people time to clean out their items before coming. I set a goal for me to put at least one item in the "Junk Tote" every day before the party.

- Last night the kids and I went to a Storytime with Mrs. Claus at the library. Annabeth enjoyed hearing her library lady friend Miss Heather read lots of stories and Owen enjoyed running around the lobby. We drove through the Masonic Home's Light Show on the way home.

- Mark stayed home from the library because our dryer broke yesterday. Annabeth and I cleaned out the lint trap and hose yesterday afternoon but that was not the issue. Mark took it apart and found the problem. I am so thankful for a problem solving man! We are very thankful for a $100ish dollar fix vs a new dryer.

We have 6 events this weekend and I am excited to celebrate the Christmas season and three special friend's birthdays!

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Frugal Friday 221

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- We avoided Black Friday shopping.

- Annabeth earned her first Book-It award last month. Our local Pizza Hut had poor reviews from friends and online so we waited until we were visiting my family to go. We redeemed her free personal pan pizza on an outing with my parents, sister, and Momaw.

 Thankful that Pizza Hut still offers book-it!
I loved getting my free little pizzas as a kid.
Annabeth ended up not actually liking the pizza but she did like
the salad bar!
It still amazes me that she is in 1st grade!
Where is my Nanners Baby?

- My sister and I had a night out together! We had dinner at Manna, shopped at Barnes and Noble (I combined a gift card, store sale, and my educator's discount) and spent just $13 on three books for the kids.

- Mark stayed back from Evansville and worked a couple of shifts over the holiday weekend. He also spent time building and installing storage shelves in our garage. He has been wanting to do this project for years and we finally saved the time and money to get it done. We spent this week organizing everything and condensing, throwing away, or giving away tons of stuff in our garage. It feels so good to have this huge project tackeled!

- I watched a deal on two items for Annabeth over the holiday weekend. I came out way ahead on Monday with each item more than 60% off plus free shipping! Success! Saved: $44

- Annabeth needs new/gusseted garmet bags for dance this year since her costumes are longer and fluffier than in the past. I found a great deal on Cyber Monday and got free shipping. Saved: $15.99

- I forgot to click my Ebates button when I bought Annabeth's dance things. I was not happy with myself since the store had 8% cashback for Cyber Monday. I messaged Ebates, hoping maybe they would still give me the cashback, and **shockingly** they did! Made: $2.88

- Annabeth received a bag of hand-me-downs from her friend Gwen. We sent on a bag of hand-me-downs to our friend Aubree. We love giving and receiving clothes this way!

We had a great week and spent tons of time outside enjoying this unusually warm late fall weather! We are looking forward to a fun weekend with my sister in town and even a bit of a date night on Sunday!

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Frugal Friday 220

Happy Frugal Friday!
Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!
We are so thankful for ALL OF YOU!

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

- Last Friday, we all went to the Superhero Academy at our library. The kids listened to superhero stories and then made arm-bands, masks, and capes to be their own superheroes. We enjoyed the library computers and toys after as well.

Annabeth was making superhero arm-bands
and Owen was pouring glue on the table. 

- Mark worked a shift at his part time job and I had an Usborne Book Party.

- My best-friend is expecting a baby, due in February, and has already been asked to do modified bed-rest. Last Saturday, Mark kept our kids home and I drove down to her house to help clean, run errands, and I made lunch/leftovers for dinner. She is a friend who has always been there for me and it was such a blessing to be there for her!

- Sunday, Mark helped a friend move. They treated him to dinner as a thank-you.

- Annabeth went to a birthday party Sunday afternoon. They played group games and made crafts. She had a great time! Owen and I spent the afternoon cleaning out the school room. We were able to get rid of a whole tote of paper.

- Our friends Jeanette and Audrey came to play on Monday. Jeanette had borrow a pie pan and returned it with homemade donuts! Thank you!

- I receieved a check from Ebates. I added it to our extra mortgage payment :)

- A friend was over and our girls were playing Dominos. She mentioned wanting to get some. I said, "No! We have extra." I gave them a set out of our gift tote. Last Christmas, Annabeth got three sets and we already had two so I have just been keeping them around waiting to give them to someone.

- Mark and his brother Matt hunted this week. They did not see any deer but I think they had a good time together anyway. Mark is hoping to head out more between work the next few weeks.

- The kids made free Thanksgiving crafts at the library and at dance class this week. Annabeth is almost past wanting to make the cutesy turkeys so I was thankful for one more year of them!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with the Rileys yesterday and are looking forward to a weekend with more family time.

Happy Savings to All!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Big, Scary 2018 Financial Goal

When Mark and I first married, he was 21 and I was 22. I was one year out of college and he was about 2 weeks out of college. We were young and living on love...and nearly $25,000 in student loan debt.

We made a plan, a firm plan, and we rocked it! Less than 2.5 years later we had paid off ALL of our student loans and purchased our first house. Here is my 7 Days of Dave series that gives the details.  We bought our current home in 2013 and we did a 30 year-mortgage because I was not working at all and we feared the bigger payment with a 15 year mortgage. We did verbally commit to each other that we wanted to shoot for that 15 year mark! Well, 4.5 years have gone by and we have not made many significant strides on our mortgage beyond our monthly payments. We have no new debt and have purchased different vehicles, two washing machines, a dishwasher, and spent nearly $15,000 in medical bills. We are happy that we are still debt free and that we have adjusted our budget time and time again to stay debt-free.

Last summer, when I started with Usborne Books & More my initial goal was that my paychecks would just go to put money on the principal of our mortgage. Then we had four eye exams, three ER visits, a flooded kitchen, a new dishwasher, an immediate care visit. My book money covered 80% of that! I still haven't made an extra payment on our house BUT we were able to cover so many things without even touching our savings!


A few months ago a certain number kept popping in my head. Over and over again. I started seeing it in my dreams. I would think of it 10-15 times a day. I began praying on it and the more I prayed the more it felt like where God was leading me.

Over the weekend, I read Money Problems, Marriage Solutions by Chuck and Ann Bentley. I won this book on my blog friend Abbi's blog - Proverbs 31 Living (If you love homemaking, homesteading, homeschooling, blogs hers is one to follow! I have been reading and enjoying her blog for years now!) Thank you Abbi for this great book!

Last night, Mark was out helping a friend move and the kids were in bed so I wrote the number down. I spent about 30 minutes doing math and figuring out how to get what we owe on our house down to that number. My goal date is 12.31.18. Poor Mark came home and I said, "Guess what I want to do next year?!"

The goal feels scary - we'll be making almost a double payment every month (with the second, extra going to the principal) but with book money and extra money from babysitting, sales, etc it's totally do-able!
The goal feels uncomfortable - we are going to have to edit some parts of how we live. We're going to have to choose the house money over pizza money. We're going to have to go without a few of our fun purchases.
The goal feels like a stretch - while it's completely attainable with dedication we haven't made a goal this big since I was working part-time.

We will not compromise:
Our health - we will continue to go to all medical and dental appointments. We will also continue to buy fresh fruits/veggies and organic meats.
The children's education - if it is something they need for learning we will continue to give them 100% of those experiences.

We will compromise:
Our fun stuff. Maybe we don't need every camping item or pair of shoes that we love.
Eating-out. We are working every month to get better and better about not relying on conveniences like a quick meal out.

I do not plan on making this into a series but just wanted to share this here as an encouragement to others. I do plan to update a couple of times over the course of next year and will update at the end of next December to let you know how we achieved this goal!
What big financial goal can you make for your 2018? What debt can you eliminate?

Join us as we prayerfully strive to, "owe no man anything but love." Romans 13:8 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Frugal Friday 219

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I had two Usborne book parties and Mark worked a shift at his part time job.

- I cut both Annabeth and Owen's hair at home.

- We took a quick weekend trip to Cinncinnati for a cousin's wedding. We drove over Saturday after lunch and spent the afternoon at Pogo Play (just $15 for all 4 of us!) We checked into our hotel and then met up with Mark's immediate family for a dinner out. We split the cost of dinner with everyone so it was fairly affordable and a good time together. Sunday, we spent the morning at the hotel visiting and relaxing with the family. Then the four of us went to Bass Pro. The kids loved it! They enjoyed watching the fish, looking at all of the outdoor gear, and it was the Welcome Santa day so they had tables of blocks and sand to play with and free crafts. We went to the wedding Saturday afternoon at Niederman Family Farm which was just beautiful! We drove back a llloonnnggg way since we accidently programmed the GPS to "avoid highways." We had a nice 36 hour trip and it was much appreciated, dare I say needed, time away to relax!

It was Mr. O's first trip to Ohio - his 6th new state this year!
We thought he looked so sweet with his digger in his hands while he slept. 

- I had a Starbucks giftcard. When Annabeth and I went to use it, we really lucked out! We went on one of the buy one, get one free days and so we paid for just one of her cake-pops and got the second free. Then, they messed up my drink order so I also ended up getting the mess-up free! 

- Annabeth outgrew her Style sweatshirt. We were able to sell it to a smaller girl at the studio. Made: $5

- I paid a hospital bill that hadn't come yet. I had seen what we owed on our October insurance statement. I have waited for the bill to come but I HATE owing people money! I called Wednesday morning to pay the bill in full. This bill was paid entirely with Usborne commission money! Thank you to everyone who supports my book business - it has been such a finanacial blessing in this year of 3 ER trips!

- Wednesday we went to our once-a-month Homeschool Preschool Storytime for Owen. We really enjoy meeting with this group and Miss Kelley always has such fun crafts and lessons for the kids. This month we made a wreath of thanks and also brought home a snack for each of the kids.

- We handeded-down a pair of very expensive toddler boots to a family at dance. They were handed down to us but Annabeth refused to wear them (they are grey and she doesn't like grey) and Owen had difficulty walking in them as they are soft and didn't have the foot support he likes from his tennis shoes. These boots were a very expensive name-brand and I didn't want to just send them to Goodwill. I asked around until I found a family who could use them this winter.

We had a good week and are looking forward to a fun weekend - we are each headed different directions to help friends with projects and we feel so blessed to have the time to do that! Mark is also looking forward to the beginning of hunting season.

Happy Savings to All!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Matilda Jane Sale Review

Last Friday, Annabeth and I headed up to Ft Wayne (a 3ish hour drive) for the Matilda Jane Sale.

Let me begin with - I love LOVE LOVE Matilda Jane clothes! I have been searching consignment sales and stores for this brand since Annabeth was a baby. (My best deal ever was a pair of Platinum Ruffle Pants for $6!) There is always a few items at our local consignment sale but I have to really love them to pay $20+ for one item. Recently, I have scored three pieces on Zulily at great prices (determined to be great based on what I think I can resell them for) Then...someone shared this Matilda Jane Sale on Facebook. (Thanks Monika!) I messaged and asked her if she had been and what she thought. Her positive review meant I "needed" to go to this sale.

Annabeth and I drove up in the morning. The sale ran from 9-3 on Friday so I planned to get there around 11 hoping the first wave of people would be done, no line, and that maybe ladies would be heading out to lunch. I was shocked to find a fairly empty parking lot, no line, and a huge room at the coliseum no more crowded than our local grocery store. There was not any pushing or shoving or craziness! I was honestly so shocked! I have more issues with crowding and pushing on a Tuesday at Once Upon a Child!

Everything was really well organized! They had everything organized by: Baby, Girls, Tweens, Womens, Home, Holiday, and Accessories. The Platinums were all in their own area and then organized the same way. For each section they had huge signs with the pricing and all like-items in the same sizes were priced the same. Example: Girls: Pants: $10. I was pleased that it wasn't done by individual print or style so it made it very easy to keep track in my head as Annabeth shoved things in the bag. Each set of tables had a display rack showing all of the items on that table, then on each table were boxes (organized 100% by size) of the items in their original packaging. It was super easy to find everything!

We ended up bringing home 8 items for what I would pay for 2 dresses retail!
We got four shirts (all different sleeve lengths), 1 dress, 1 jacket, 1 headband, and 1 overnight bag.

What did I not love?
I wish, wish, wish there had been more dresses!! There were tons of sweet little tops but I didn't see very many of the dresses that I really love from Matilda Jane. Annabeth did get the one dress, a purple one that she fell in love with right away!
I also wish it had been a bit more organized as far as coordinating tops and bottoms. A friend got one of the shirts that I got for Annabeth and she found matching leggings. I missed the leggings and they were really cute!

What was pricing like?
Since we shopped girls I can only give the girls pricing:
Pants/Skirts/Capris: $10
PJs: $10
Tops: $15
Dresses/Rompers: $20
Jackets: $20
Tights/Hair Accessories: $5

Will I go again?
Absolutely! Annabeth and I had so much fun! Half of her items fit now and the other half we bought big to get us through until the next sale. Annabeth is very specific about what she wears - she has a lot of opinions about cut, colors, texture. I love watching her love what she loves - and loving that she got her fashion sense from my super creative and stylish sister!

Heading into the sale with my Nanners Girl.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Frugal Friday 218

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I hosted my Usborne Books Holiday Open house, had two Usborne parties, one album sale, and received my October bonus! Mark worked a shift at his part-time job.

- I used my October bonus to buy the last item for the kids for Christmas. The toy that Annabeth wants is on sale + a friend told me how to get an extra 25% off. It shipped free so I didn't even have to drive to Greenwood to get it! I also shopped through eBates for 1% cashback.

- We made cupcakes for an event last Friday and sent leftovers home with friends.

- Saturday I went to the Downtown Franklin Open House with my best friend. We had a great morning talking and shopping local. We were even treated to a FREE tea from a nice man behind us in line at Benjamin's.

- Sunday I hosted my Usborne Holiday Open House. I came very close to my sales goal for the day which was exicting since it was my first live event! I made lots of treats for the day and sent the leftover cookies to work with Mark for his co-workers to enjoy.

- I put up a small Christmas tree for our Open House and since the kids' Christmas outfits are already here I went ahead and made Christmas pictures. I ordered cards using a 50% off code.
***I have been making photo holiday cards since Annabeth was born and every year I do the 100 for $15 Black Friday Deal from Sam's Club. This year, we don't have a Sam's Club Membership so to get the good deal on the cards, I would have to buy the membership as well. It was more cost effective to order cards at a slightly higher cost than usual***

- I sold a leotard at Annabeth's dance school. They credited our account. Made: $5

- Annabeth needs a certain style of tap shoe to compete with. We lucked out and a classmate had some to hand down to her for competitions! Thank you to Raegan and her mom!

- I listed three items for sale on Facebook.

- We deep cleaned Annabeth's room and she parted with a whole box of toys! I was really surprised as she carefully picked a ton of toys to get rid of! Some were little McDonald's type toys but also some larger stuffed animals!

- We made a quick trip to Meijer. The store mailed us some AWESOME coupons (all on items we buy on nearly every trip so I am guessing they track it through our mPerks) We got FREE dish soap and some great deals on other items. I also found some pumpkin nutrigrain bars on the clearance for $.89/box of 8 bars. We bought all they had and will donate them for the Meal Bags. It doesn't have to break your budget to bless others!

This is an old picture that Mark took of Annabeth on a hike last year.
I stumbled across it this week and was reminded of how much I loved it!

We are looking forward to a really, really fun weekend! Can't wait to share about it next week!

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Frugal Friday 217

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Mark worked overtime at his main job as well as a shift at his part-time job. I had two Usborne book parties and closed out my holiday book box orders.

- Two weeks ago we sold Mark's truck. We bought it two years ago and it ended up being a far bigger project than we are responsibly ready to take on at this time. Mark worked extra shifts and used his birthday/Christmas gifts and money to buy parts and pay for labor on the things he couldn't do but it was just becoming far more than we needed to put into it. We orginally listed it for sale in July and it took until this month to sell. Mark was very sad to see it go but it was the right, responsible choice for our family. We earned enough to match what we spent on the new family car and were refunded the remainder of what we had paid in insurance for the year. We will add that refund to our savings account.

- We took advantage of Open Gym on Saturday morning and took Annabeth to an extra gymnastics class this weekend. We have had pretty busy Saturdays so this was the first one we were able to take her. It is built into our budget with the studio and we hope to get her there as much as possible this winter. Owen loved playing with the other little siblings in the hallway.

- Annabeth was invited to a pottery painting party on Saturday afternoon. She very much enjoyed painting her own little bank. We gifted the birthday girl a gift certificate to our dance school (which I think her parents were very happy to see since they can use it for class fees) as well as a ballet sticker book.

- We packed our shoebox for Samaritan's Purse. Annabeth chose to fill a box for a 6 year old girl. Mark took Annabeth to the store on Sunday and they filled up on school supplies - pencils, crayons, colored pencils, notebooks, and markers. They also added hygeine items - toothbrushes, hair ties of various kinds, and a hairbrush. Annabeth chose two little cupcake dolls for the girl's toys. At home, I found a manicure set (without sharp scissors since it was for a young girl), a flower hairbow, and a little sticker book in our "gift box." Annabeth loves doing this each year and we love watching her give with joy! We used a $10 off coupon to help buy things and tried to use up things in our gift tote as well.

- Mark's work vehicle was needed at the office over the weekend so he drove home a marked vehicle. Both of the kids loved checking it out and having a "real" police car to look at! Owen was beside himself with excitement!

- Sunday evening Mark made biscuits and gravy for dinner. Once we were full of warm food, we bundled up and headed outside to play for the evening. The kids loved seein the first flurries of the season!

- We had a great Halloween! The kids enjoyed their usual classes at Style. Their friend Kinsley and her family made sweet little treats for the kids and her mama even gave each of my kids their own, allergy free ones. Thank you Katelyn! Our amazing neighbors all stopped in Halloween night with treats for the kids - coloring books, crayons, color your own bags, and allergy free treats! Since our kids' grandparents all live far away we are so thankful to have these special grandparent-like people in our lives!

 Buckets and costumes ready!
Owen used my trick or treat bucket from when I was little!
That cat decoration is also from my parents house from when I was little.

Post trick-or-treat trade out for safe candy.
Owen was originally "scared" of his costume so we were glad he
finally agreed to wear it! 

Annabeth waiting to trade out her treats for safe ones.

- We had a great trip to Meijer yesterday. We saved $45.55 with coupons! My best deals were Owen's GF bean chips for $.99/bag and hair color for just $.49! We also checked out the sushi and the sushi man Simon offered the kids a sample. I thought one piece each but he gave them a WHOLE ROLL to split! My little sushi-monsters loved that!

Frugal Fails and a Savings Challenge for November:
- We did have some food waste this week - 1/3 jar of pasta sauce and 1/2 container of sour cream were hidden in the back of the fridge for quite a few weeks. I worried they wouldn't be safe to eat so we dumped them out and recycled their containers. We also let four yogurts expire.
- We ate out twice as a family this week. We really try to only eat out as a family three times (or less) each month. We have set the goal of not eating out as a family (AT ALL!) for the month of November. Mark does eat out some for work meetings and will continue to do that. We took a family vote and Annabeth chose to use the money we save from not eating out to buy supplies for the Meal Bags that we help fill. We will make a big shopping trip at the end of the month just for Meal Bags!

How can you find extra money in your budget to bless others this Christmas season?
If you are local and would like to know more about donating time, money, or resources to the Meal Bags please let me know!

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Frugal Friday 216

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, I had one Usborne book party, and I baby sat for a friend.

- Last Friday and Saturday nights, Mark and Annabeth camped out in our backyard. Friday night they popped popcorn over the grill and both nights they enjoyed star gazing and wathching the meteor shower. Mark downloaded a star app and they did some astronomy as well. We haven't had any weekends to camp for real but Mark and Annabeth enjoy sleeping out back any chance they get!

- Sunday evening we had Mark's family over for dinner. We made salad, ordered Greek's pizzas, and Annabeth and I made desserts (strawberry jam drop cookies from scratch and pineapple upside down cake from a mix) We had enough left-overs to enjoy for two more meals.

"The Watchers" waiting for company on Sunday.
I love them holding hands so sweetly!
Annabeth's fun hair-do was inspired by a braid book we borrow from the library.

- A few months ago, I saw a cute homemade pumpkin idea on Facebook. The pumpkins were made from wood slices. I immediately throught of my sister-in-law Cassidy and her family because last year they made us all cute little cut-wood snowmen as Christmas gifts. I tagged them in a post and then forgot about it. But Sunday when Luke and Cass came for dinner - a pumpkin came too! Thank you all so much! It looks so adorbale out on our porch!

Isn't it cute?!

- I took a load of items to Goodwill. We have been (really) decluttering since I was pregnant with Owen in the spring of 2015 and yet we still have so much stuff! I am getty antsy again so I feel like we'll be doing another big sweep through everything again!

- I finished Annabeth's birthday photo book from Shutterfly. I used a $25 off deal. I also had a deal for a FREE calendar so I quickly finished one I was working on for 2018. Saved: $50!! Thank you Shutterfly!

- Tuesday morning I took a box of clothes to dance class. We were able to share clothes with two families. I love getting hand-me-downs and I love sharing them too!

- I got my flu shot at Walmart this week. Last year, I missed the date to get it through Mark's work and ended up having to pay $40 at our doctor's office. Turns out our insurance covers it through Walmart! Woohoo!

- We made one quick little trip to Meijer for two items. One was less per item in a large box and the other was less per item when purchased individually. I always try to show the kids what I am doing and why I am buying certain things loose and others in bulk. I hope we can train our children to live frugally!

We had a busy week and are looking forward to a busy weekend as well. Mark worked pretty much non-stop this week and is working again tomrorow. We are hoping he will be off on Sunday!

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Frugal Friday 215

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Mark worked on night at his part time job and I continued to work on my Usborne Books & More business. This week's Usborne paycheck bought our groceries and paid an ER bill!

- A friend was hosting an online Avon party. Since beginning my own work in direct sales, I have become more aware of how important it can be for someone's family to support people who work this way. I made a small purchase to help her party, was able to use a 10% off code, and earned 1% cashback through Ebates. We will give this item as a Christmas gift.

- I won $5 off my Younique purchase through a friend's VIP page so I bought something pretty - for me! If you need a Younique Lady please check-in with my friend Amanda Williams.

- The kids and I spent Friday to Monday at my parents for a mini-fall-break.
Friday: We drove down, played all afternoon, and enjoyed a sushi dinner with Mama, Dad, Lu, and my Uncle John.
Saturday: We did our annual Goebel Pumpkin Patch visit. We went to Owensboro and enjoyed the day at Momaw's house. For dinner we met up with the Kuhns and then had dessert and pumpkin decorating at Uncle Jeff and Aunt Jackie's house.
Sunday: Mama and I attended the Old North 185th Anniversary Celebration and church service (Dad kindly kept the kids so I could actually sit through church). Lu and Annabeth spent the afternoon out at CMOE/Barnes and Noble as part of Lu's birthday gift to Annabeth while the rest of us stayed home. The boys napped and Mama and I enjoyed the Hallmark movie At Home in Mitford. We LOVE the Mitford books (by Jan Karon) and the movie was very sweet. We had a yummy dinner at home and then Dad and the kids had a bonfire and played flashlight tag.

 Owen's favorite part of the farm was checking out all of the tractors!
He loves anything with wheels!

Annabeth loved playing with the grain table. 
She looks so serious here!

- I took a box of hand-me-downs to a friend in Evansville. Jill, Brandon, and I all grew up together (Jill also played flute in band and Brandon and I grew up at Old North together) I was so excited to share some of my favorite Annabeth dresses with their little girls.

- We have a 9 opening cube in our living room that is toy storage. We got it as a wedding gift and it came with four pretty cream totes. Originally we used it in our dining room and it stayed really nice. Then a few years ago, when our china cabinet came from Grandma's, we moved it to the living room for toys. In the last few months, the bins have gotten very dirty and mishapen. This week I splurged ($14 - ugh!) and got four new totes. Annabeth now has two purple and Owen has two blue ones. The rule is all of their living room toys have to fit in their two totes. We got ride of about 15 old books and toys in the process. It all looks much nicer now!

- Annabeth's dance school was on Fall Break so we enjoyed being home together M, W, and TH evenings for dinner (a rare treat!) Wednesday night after dinner and clean-up we had popcorn and watched It's the Great PumpkinCharlie Brown. Thursday night, Mark set up a tent in the living room and we all just hung out talking. I love making sweet memories with our kids!

We had a great week and are looking forward to a busy weekend with family and freinds!

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Frugal Friday 214

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I ordered books for my Usborne Books & More Christmas Open House. I also received my September Bonus!

- Annabeth has outgrown her dress shoes from last winter. We bought them almost a year ago so I have to say she really got her wear out of them. I let her pick new ones from Stride Rite. She, thankfully, chose the least expensive of the options that I gave her. We received free shipping and earned 4% cashback from Ebates.
**I have always purchased gold or silver dress shoes. I like that they go with everything - black, navy, brown and work in spring and summer as well. I have saved money this way as I don't need multiple colors to match all of our winter items or new ones just for spring/summer when the old ones still fit**

- Monday we did a pumpkin lesson with friends. Their family sent us home with our own pumpkin, which looks wonderful on our front porch, and a loaf of pumpkin bread! So yummy! Thank you Andrea!

- I took three dance/gymnastics items to the studio this week to try to sell. I had them on Facebook but didn't have any luck selling them so we will try the rack at the studio.

- We had two people contact us about our truck for sale. I am hoping that they are serious buyers and that we can sell it soon.

- Mark has gotten very serious about backpacking and has slowly been building his gear. One of the things he really wanted were some waterproof bags and after shopping around found them to be quite expensive. Then he found that the material itself isn't much at all. His mom was kind enough to make him three bags as part of his Christmas gift. She brought them over Wednesday evening since he is hiking later this month. Thank you Kristi!

And my last bit isn't about being frugal really but it's just about how awesome God is and how thankful I am for Him! We truly have the very best friends and this week was proof of that!
Wednesday the kids and I ran to Meijer (about 1.5 miles from our house) for diapers and some fruit/veggies. When we left, I went to start the car and something happened causing the car not to run. If you know me, you know that I HATE asking for help or appearing weak. I tried for about 20 minutes to troubleshoot the problem and finally called Mark. He didn't answer even though I called a few times. So I debated just walking home but it was chilly, drizzling and none of us were dressed/shoed for that. So I called our neighbors to maybe come jump our battery - they weren't home. So I texted our friend Andrea to see if her husband was home by chance. He wasn't but she had company so she offered to just run over while our friend Danae kept the kids. And she came. She left her company and came out on a chilly, rainy day and helped me try to sort out the problem. It ended up not being the battery so she helped me load all of my groceries, the kids, and uninstalled our carseats and drove us home. Then, on top of that, she offered to help me put the carseats in the black car so Annabeth wouldn't be late to ballet! Once Mark got my messages, he went and checked on the car. He found the problem but couldn't fix it at the store. He called a friend who towed the car home for free! Mark's mom stayed with Owen so I could run Annabeth to dance. On top of those amazing friends, our friend Kelley checked in saying she had seen Mark with the tow truck and did we need anything.
We are so thankful that it wasn't either of the first expensive things we thought that might be wrong but it was an inexpensive part and Mark knew what to do. Wooohooo!
We are just so incredibly blessed with people who love on us so well! We pray that we can great friends to them too! To God be all the glory!

Mark and Annabeth working on the Buick last night.
I love how Mark incorporates our children into his work so they can
learn life-skills. This is a huge reason why we homeschool - we love
teaching our children everything we can about life and love. 

Happy Savings to All!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Reviews and Reccomendations: Carseat Poncho

Over the summer, our dear friend Kelley at Heaven Bound HCA asked if I would be interested in a carseat poncho for Owen. She offered to make him one for us to use and then review. My answer was: "Yes Please!"

If you see us out and about in the winter, 9/10 times you will see my kids in just fleece jackets meaning *gasp* no heavy winter coats! Both of our kids are still in 5-point harness carseats which means they should not wear coats under them for safety reasons. That means that we get to where we are going, get out of the carseat, freeze our tooshies off while we put our coats on, then we walk the 100 yards into the store where my kids promptly rip their coats off because they are hot, then those coats get put in the dirty shopping cart, after wrestling the kids at check-out I then have to wrestle them back into their coats to walk back to the car where we have to take the coats off again. So when someone offered a coat I don't have to take on and off I was SOOOO excited! I love that these ponchos can be worn from house to car to store to car to home - no on and off!!

Kelley sent me all of her color options and I chose a great dark green for O. He was happy with it too. Then when the actual canopy came...he refused to wear it. It was summer and still pretty hot so I wasn't too worried. But even as it has gotten colder he has refused to wear it. Owen is very into picking out his own clothes and will only wear fleece jackets with a hood. So...much to Annabeth's delight she is using the carseat poncho and loving it!

 Enjoying being warm and snuggly in the car while being safe in her carseat!
I love that if she gets too warm she can just pull it over her head.

Annabeth loved wearing the poncho this morning while we worked in the yard.  

Kelley at Heavenbound HCA is offering these items as a custom order available on her Etsy Page and at Heavenbound HCA. I encourage you to visit her sites for these, and many other, beautiful items that can be enjoyed for years to come!

**I received this item free from the seller but was not financially compensated for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own**

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Fun and Frugal Birthday Fun

This week we celebrated Annabeth's 6th Birthday!

We kicked off the celebration a few weeks ago with a birthday lunch with our best friends the Eblings. Rose and the boys came up for a lunch of Annabeth's choosing (hot dogs, fruits, and tater tots) and a donut cake. We had a good low-key celebration.

That weekend we went to my parents for the weekend. We enjoyed a sushi dinner, rock painting, and a vintage bus festival. We took the kids to a garden and for a walk downtown around the Ohio River.

Last Friday, we celebrated with Annabeth's dance and school friends with an at-home donut party. We spent under $50 for decorations, party goods, donuts, fruit, and drinks. It was simple and affordable but also themed.

Last Sunday, we had a birthday cook-out at the park with Mark's brother Luke. Luke and Cassidy generously rented a shelter house and we all pitched in food. We took GF pretzels, pita chips, hummus, veggies, and drinks for our family. We had a great celebration and the kids all loved playing in the park!

Thursday was the BIG #6 for Annabeth!
She woke up early to open her presents. We gave her some new outfits for dance and two Baby Alive dolls. I found everything on her wishlist for around $40 by being patient, shopping throughout the year, and shopping great sales!
After breakfast, we headed up to the mall which was her birthday activity choice this year. The past few years she has chosen the park but she said she wanted a "big girl" birthday. This worked out well because it rained ALL day! She spent a giftcard at Build a Bear Workshop and made a new bear that she named "Stephanie." Then we headed to Claire's where she spent her birthday money ($6) on a little cat stuffed animal. We rounded out the mall trip with a cake pop and decaf coffee at Starbucks.
We came home for lunch (her choice - Lunchables) and she decorated her cake while Owen napped. After nap, we went to play at the library and went to their My Little Pony party. Some of her favorite friends were there too and she had a great time making crafts and painting her nails!
Dinner was a Happy Meal and then "Happy Birthday" and cake at home.

Her annual 8:55 on 10.05 picture.
Celebrating the time she arrived! 

Each birthday we let the kids choose all of the meals (with the rule that we can only have one eat-out meal) and activities (chosen ahead of time and worked into the birthday budget) and we don't do any formal school work on her birthday. I think she had a great day and we didn't spend very much money at all!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Frugal Friday 213

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last Friday we celebrated Annabeth's birthday with her friends with a Donut Movie Night. We had originally came up with the jammies/donuts/movie theme and intended it for a Saturday morning but when we actually looked at the calendar we realized we didn't have any Saturday mornings free. So...we made it a Friday evening party. It turned out really cute! We found two cute donut trucks to hold the cakes ($5 total) and Mark found donut paper goods (invitations, plates, napkins, cups, banner, and treat boxes) for around $15. We served donuts, apples, bananas, and milk/juice choices. The girls all had a lot of fun and Annabeth received tons of fun craft supplies as gifts!

How cute are these donut diplays? We found them on clearance at a Kroger
while in Kentucky! My Mama gave Annabeth these donut jammies as an early 
birthday gift so she could wear them for her party. 

- Saturday morning Annabeth performed downtown at the Fall Festival. We ran home for lunch inbetween events so we didn't spend any money eating out. In the afternoon, she and Mark both were in the parade. Mark walked for Kirby Cochran for Sheriff and Annabeth danced with her dance school. Owen and I walked the Fall Festival and enjoyed seeing some good friends!

- Sunday we celebrated Annabeth's birthday as well as Mark's brother Luke's birthday. Luke and Cassidy were kind enough to rent a shelter house for the family at one of our favorite parks. It was a gorgeous fall day and we all enjoyed cooking out and playing on the playground!

The Riley Four.
We were so happy to celebrate our Miracle Girl!
The Cece doll was one of her favorite gifts this birthday!

- I had one Usborne party and Mark worked overtime. 

- We FINALLY got our kitchen floors installed which means we could install our new dishwasher as well. We did save about 35 dishwasher pods by not having a dishwasher this past month! We feel like the new one has a larger capacity than the old one so we are hoping to run it less than the old one. They also gave us some free dishwasher pods so our first two rounds are covered. 

- The kids and I drove up to Riley Children's Hospital to drop off Cuddle Bear books and bears for the Riley Cheer Guild. I was so happy to be able to team up with a fellow Hoosier Usborne Book lady to donate 14 bear and book sets!

- I wrapped up the Fall Consignment Sale. I sold 80% of what I took to the sale and made $225. I am so thankful for such a great sale and a wonderful sale staff!

- After I brought home my sale stuff, I divided it into a few categories and will pass it along to three families. I buy the majority of my kids' clothing (because it's my shopping weakness - kids clothes) and hate to just donate it to Goodwill.

- My Mama bought my kids birthday/Christmas clothes at Gymboree and earned Gymbucks. She gave them to me but the store near me is closing and won't take them. I looked online and just didn't see anything that we really needed. Their bucks are a $___ off $____ so you have to spend money just to use them. I posted the coupon on Facebook and a friend with three kids was happy to have it! It kept me from spending money on things I didn't need and helped her.

We had such a great week! We celebrated Annabeth's 6th Birthday (Fun and Frugal Birthday Post to come) and I am so thankful for all of our family and friends who helped make it special! :)

Happy Savings to All! 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Six Years


Somehow, it's already been six years.
Somehow, our baby is already six years old.
How? When?

Last week, Mark and I had a long (tearful on my end) talk about our Miracle Girl turning six.
Neither of us can look back at her birthday without anger or sadness.
I have wished every day that I could go back to 4 am on 10/05/11 and beg for the c-section. I wish I would have known more, fought harder, been better prepared. Selfishly I wish I had surgery one way that day instead of the way I did. I wish that we could have avoided, changed, stopped all the things that happened during delivery. I meet and speak with women often about Traumatic Birth and about their own experiences. I wish we didn't have a story to tell.

And then I look at our girl. Our SIX year old girl and I think about the complete miracle that she is!
I think about holding her in the middle of the night on her first night on the outside and telling her:
"You are strong. You are a fighter. I can't wait to see where this life takes you."

And she is.

Annabeth Sage is so bold in her choices, she is so confident in who she is, and she has taken everything in stride with such grace.
Her first five years, we went to countless extra appointments and each time she passed with flying colors. All the side effects she could have had from her time without a heartbeat or oxygen never came. We waited and worried and prayed and each time God allowed us to move through that checkpoint without new concerns. Last year, she was officially given the all-clear! Our girl who was born blue, grey, lifeless has become such a colorful, full-of-life person.

I cannot count the number of people who say to me "There's just something about her..."
There IS something about her.
It's called grace,
By the grace of God - by the steady, healing hands of God, her heart was restarted, her lungs were filled with air again.
And this past year, not just once but twice, our sweet girl survived life-threatening reactions to new allergens. God once again protected our girl.

When I look at Annabeth - I just see the complete and utter goodness of our God.
I am always amazed at her kindness - even with others are mean.
I am impressed by her willingness to try new things and to stretch herself.
I am (to be honest) envious of her self-confidence.
I am encouraged by her Christian witness.
I am blessed, so incredibly blessed, to be her Mama.

Today she is six. Today, like every day, we will celebrate her and, yes as many have accused us of, we will spoil her. We know what it's like to have her and to lose her. We have seen her lifeless. We have seen her still. We have heard her heartbeat stop. And yet our incredible God has given us this second chance to have her and we refuse to waste a moment of it.

Happy #6 to our Miracle Girl.

To read all of her birthday posts:
Her Birth Day