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 Spring 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

Friday, September 29, 2017

Frugal Friday 212

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last Friday we did a London/England lesson with friends. Annabeth wore a Hello Kitty London shirt handed down to us many years ago but finally fits! We served English muffins pizzas, goldfish crackers/potato chips (get it, fish and chips), fruit, and some English Jam Cookies. I love themes!

- We headed to Evansville for the weekend to celebrate my sister's 28th and Annabeth's 6th birhdays.
Here is what we did for (mostly free!) fun:

Friday: We got into town and my mama had found a rock painting kit for the kids. She and dad painted rocks with the kids that we would hide around town all weekend. Annabeth, of course, chose sushi dinner at Fuji Yama and we were able to hide some rocks there. Annabeth enjoyed watching Aunt Lu find a rock and our favorite waitress Helen even posted Annabeth's picture on Facebook with her rocks!

Saturday: We went to the Master Gardner's Garden for just a bit, it was already very hot. The kids loved seeing all of the flowers and buterflies. We all enjoyed the shade garden the most! We spent the rest of the morning/afternoon at Momaw's house. There was a huge airshow down by the river and Momaw lives close enough that we were able to see many of the planes and to be scared as the huge jets flew nosily over the house! We finished out the day at Evansville's Vintage Bus Festival and dinner at Turoni's.

Mr. O and I loved the Cardinal bus - we were celebrating UofL's big win! 
 Vintage Bus Family. Maybe we will all buy one and travel the country together! 

Sunday: We went downtown to walk along the Ohio River. I don't think Owen remembered the river becuase he was really excited about the water and all of the boats. Annabeth hid more of her rocks. Then we ended up back at the Bus Show. The kids loved climbing all over the buses! Pretty simple, free fun!

- I redeemed my Kellogg's Rewards Points for a $5 Starbucks giftcard! Woohoo!

- We stayed home for our meals this week.

- I dropped all of my stuff off at the Here We Grow Again - Indy South Sale. I used a new system for hanging and tagging this year and cut off about 2 hours off my prep-time! I have been doing this sale for 4 years now and have made back almost $1500!

- I pre-shopped the sale Wednesday afternoon. I came in under budget and was able to find everything on my list! We got three new books, a Christmas dress for Annabeth, jackets for both kids, some dancewear, Annabeth's Halloween costume for $8, and a tricycle for Owen, also just $8. I love shopping this sale and saving money while supporting local families!

We had another busy week and are looking ahead to a really busy weekend! We are loving the fall weather and plan to enjoy it outside with the Franklin Fall Festival and Parade and Annabeth's birthday with the Rileys.

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Frugal Friday 211

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I enjoyed two magazines that I receive in the mail for free. I get free magazine offers from the surveys I take online.

- I had FOUR Usborne parties. Thank you to everyone has made my first 90 days so much fun!

- Labor Day Weekend I ordered FREE prints from Shutterfly. I just paid shipping. They came this week and about 1/3 of them were wrong - they had printed them all landscape so many of them had faces cut out. I called Customer Service and they gave me credit for the same number of prints and free shipping on the new order! I replaced the ones that were wrong and since many came out okay, I used the rest to print new pictures from September. I love using Shutterfly and they really do have great customer service!

- Annabeth spent all weekend at the dance studio at a dance conference. She LOVED it! Even after 14 hours of dance she said to me, "What time to I dance tomorrow?" I am so happy that she has found her passion!

- Sunday evening we had Mark's parents over for dinner to celebrate his dad's birthday. We ordered pizza and they brought salad. We were able to all have the leftovers for two meals on Monday.

- Wednesday we enjoyed a free storytime at our friend's church. The kids loved the smaller group than we see at the library. Annabeth loved the games, songs, and craft. Owen, of course, refused to do any of it. "Not want to. No. Not do it." He is 2 after all.

And this cute dude wasn't so frugal yesterday...
Mr. Owen Merit decided to stick a bead up his nose. (Not the first, and I doubt the last, item he has put up there) None of our usual tricks worked so I took him to Immediate Care. They told me, thankfully at the desk before he was admitted, that they couldn't get it and that we needed to go to the ER. So, we made our third ER trip of the year. Once again, we had a great ER doctor and he was able to get the bead out without having to sedate Owen which I was so thankful for! BUT Mr. O that silly business will cost us some serious money!

- We were able to host my best friend and her kids for lunch yesterday and we will be hosting a group in today as well. Our living room floor is torn up, our kitchen is concerete floored at the moment, I don't have a dishwasher, and our fridge is in the hallway but God calls us to show hospitality to others and so we are. We serve the Lord with gladness!

We are looking forward to a fun weekend with my family celebrating my sister's and Annabeth's birthdays!

Happy Savings to All!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Bedtime Storytime Lessons and Tears

When I was a little girl, we read all the time.
We had lots of bedtime stories read (and made-up) for us.

I remember reading the Felicity American Girl books together. Mama, Lu, and I were reading on the couch and we got to the book where Grandfather died. We cried and cried together. Dad came in the door and thought something horrible had happened because we were all crying so hard.

Now, I read every day to my own children.
We read lots of beditme stories.

This month, Annabeth and I have been reading some "Who Was..." books that are on loan to us from our friends the Gish Family.

This week, we have been reading Who Was Anne Frank? Annabeth first became interested in Anne Frank after visiting the "Children Who Changed the World" exhibit at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis. When she saw the Anne Frank book in our tote from the Gish Family she wanted to read it right away.

We have been reading, and having some heavy discussions, about Anne all week. Tonight we finished it, and it was so hard to read. They finished the book with a beautiful quote from Anne's diary:

"In spite of everything, I still believe that people really are good at heart."


A girl whose childhood was taken as she was forced into nearly two years of hiding, a girl whose life was taken by typhus as she suffered her last days in a concentration camp still saw good. She still chose to believe in the good, to believe in people.

I sobbed as I read Anne's words. I looked over and I saw tears just running down Annabeth's face. She said, "Mama. I am so sad because they hated Anne for nothing." If my child, my five year old, understands that. Why don't others? Why do people still hate? Why don't we learn? 

When we said our bedtime prayer, sweet Annabeth prayed, "Dear God, thank you Mommy, Daddy, and Owen. And for Jesus love. And for hate to end."

Amen. Let's be the love, let's be the light. Always for Him. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Frugal Friday 210

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last Saturday, Annabeth and I helped fill meal bags at the Church of God in Franklin. I love serving alongside Annabeth as we do our small part in helping hungry children in our community.

- After meal bags, I went up to Greenwood with a friend for the UTS Banana Box Sale. You can read my review here.

- I had two Usborne Books Parties.

- The kids made and sent homemade cards for Grandparents Day (which was Sunday 9/10) I had them do cute little surveys about their grandparents.

- Tuesday Mark took the day off work and we all went to Conner Prairie Homeschool Day. We had a great time and I really enjoyed being able to go as a whole family. With their special pricing we were able to go for $11. Admission on a regular day for our family of four would be $58! We are so thankful that they do these very affordable homeschool days!

 Annabeth and I loved putting these fun word rocks together
to make phrases and sentences. 
This was the first time we have been in two years. 
It was so fun to see Annabeth experience it as an older child
and for Owen to see it all for the first time. 

- Wednesday we had a long, rainy day. I pulled out the playdough and some games that we had put up in the early summer. Annabeth really enjoyed seeing some "new" things on a long day inside. Both of the kids prefer to be outside every moment of the day!

- I switched around the kids closets/dressers to have some long pants/long sleeves since the weather is getting cooler. I found eight more items that the kids have outgrown and added those to the sale pile.

- We did not grocery shop or eat out this week. The kids and I are making a small run to the store this morning for fresh fruits and veggies. We have been able to eat up quite a bit of the food that we had around.

We are looking forward to a fun weekend ahead - dance workshop, family reunion, and celebrating a birthday in Mark's family.

Happy Savings to All! 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

September Banana Box Review

Last Saturday my friend Jeanette and I headed up to Greenwood to the new Under the Sun location for their banana box sale.

I would say that this sale was about even with my thoughts on the last sale.

I really liked that the new location is just 20 minutes from home instead of nearly an hour drive. It also wasn't nearly as busy so instead of waiting in line for an hour we waited about five minutes. The new store is smaller though which meant we were really packed in with all of the other shoppers. This banana box sale did not have a coupon like last time so I paid the full $30 for the box. Here is what I got:

1 box instant coffees (a brand that Mark loves for backpacking/camping)
1 Gluten Free (and Anna-Safe) pancake mix
1 Box of slim fast snacks
1 Progresso soup bag
1 Knorr rice side
1 can of fruit
1 can of veggies
1 box of pasta
1 box of GF pasta
1 bag of pasta
1 protein oatmeal cup (Mark likes to take these for breakfast on work days)
1 box of pop-tarts
1 box of movie theater style candy
1 box of gum
1 box of applesauce cups (18 cups total)
1 box of gummies (20 packs total)
2 boxes of Fiber One snacks
2 boxes of Krispey Kreme cake mixes
2 boxes of pineapple upside down cake mixes
2 boxes of GF cake mixes
2 boxes of organic soup
3 boxes of potatoes (all were 2-meal packs so enough for 6 meals)
4 pack of diced pear fruit cups
That all filled the base of my box. But I had about 1/2 an inch at the top and some funky holes to fill so I really felt like I was getting my $30/worth. I filled them with:
8 juice boxes (these were seperated from their package so I could stick them in little spaces)
5 bags of candy (like people buy at gas stations for $1.39/each)
13 candy bars

The Experience Overall:
I really like that the new location is so much closer to home. I do wish the store was larger as I felt like I had less room to move around and a smaller selection to shop from. At the last sale I was able to get more items for meals and more options that were GF and Anna-Safe (peanut/tree-nut free) Like the last sale, many items were out of date and I was not willing to waste room in my box on out-of-date items. I also think these sales would be easier if I didn't have to check every box for both the expiration date as well as the ingredients list.

Biggest Disappointment:
I felt like they had the same items in huge quantities. I bet there were 50-100 bags of the same kind of soup. The shelves did look full but there were many multiples. Some I didn't want and some we couldn't use. There were also a TON of seasonings which people were grabbing in huge handfuls but we never use.

What I Will Do Next Time:
- Mark is considering going too. That means we could fill two boxes at the same time and I wouldn't have to debate over every item as heavily. This sale I ended up trading items around a lot.
- I will take Jeanette! She is like a puzzle master and helped me get SO many extra things in my box.
- I will really look into prices at the grocery. I thought my big box of applesauce was around $10/retail so I thought I had a great deal with that in my box. When I got home I found that it retails for around $5.50. The kids will eat it and the individual cups will come in handy when we have other kids over for meals but I didn't get the awesome deal that I thought I was getting with that in the box.
- I will try to get more canned goods in my box. I realized when I got home I could have added a few more canned goods instead of the bagged candy.

Overall, I calculated that my $30 box would have been around $100 retail at our local grocery stores!
Saving money sure does make me happy! :)

Friday, September 8, 2017

Frugal Friday 209

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I had one Usborne Books & More Party and Mark worked one shift at both of his part time jobs.

- I sold a Kelty Kids Backpack on Facebook. We purchased this item 14 months ago, go great use out of it with Owen, and I sold it for the same amount that we bought it for. We will add this money to our vacation savings fund.

- Saturday night Mark and I had our first date since May! We had dinner at The Willard and then went to buy a new dishwasher. We took advantage of Labor Day Sales (all of the dishwashers were at least $125 off) but I was shocked to find out that the white one we needed to match our kitchen is considered an "upgrade." What?! I thought we would run in, find one, and be out in twenty minutes. It turns out very few come in white (and we have all other white appliances and white cabinets so I thought this should be white too) and I didn't like the organization on the inside of many of them. In the end we found one I liked just to learn that it would be $50 extra to order it in white! I was so surprised (Mark said "aggressively so") that the saleslady gave us $20 off that so we just paid $30 extra for the white.

- Sunday afternoon Matt and Jenn had everyone over for lunch. Each household brought something to pitch in and we had a great lasagna lunch with sides and dessert. Jenn and I cleaned out her kids' closets and drawers and she sent home a HUGE bag of hand-me-downs for our kids. Thank you so much!

- I ordered our summer pictures from Shutterfly and got them free using their Labor Day code. Saved: $8.85

- Annabeth has been asking to try cheerleading. I looked into options in our area and many conflicted with dance time or were competitive programs and far more expensive than we wanted to try. Then, a friend mentioned her daughter's cheer team was running one at the high school. Annabeth has attended that this week and had so much fun! She had 4 hours of cheer lessons, a bow, and shirt all for $30. She will also cheer with the high school team for part of the football game tonight. She is SO excited!

- Owen got his first book in the mail from Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. It's a very nice copy of The Little Engine That Could. We look forward to Owen adding lots of free books to his library through this program!

Mr. O loves his new book.
He hugged it, kissed it, and yelled "No touch! My choo-choo book!"

- There was an accounting error in my original dance class budget from the studio. Annabeth's class fees ended up being $200 less than our original budget! Woohoo! This means the extra money we paid for class can be moved towards competition fees.

- This week I am running a fundraiser through this You Caring site to raise money to purchase Cuddle Bear Books and Cuddle Bear Animals to donate to the Riley Cheer Guild. If you feel inclined I would love for you to donate here!

We had a busy busy busy week and are really looking forward to some fun plans this weekend!

Happy Savings to All!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

I Can CHOOSE to be Joyful and Grateful

I can CHOOSE joy. I can CHOOSE to be grateful.

In our kitchen, I have this sign:

I put it over our stove to remind us that no matter how much, or how little, we have to eat and drink that it's enough. God will always give us just what we need.

Wednesday evening, Mark noticed a bit of water on the floor. We thought maybe the kids had spilled their cups (Have you seen O? He always has his sippy in hand) But Thursday evening, when soapy water began coming up out of the floorboards we knew it was more than that. We tracked the water to our dishwasher and began the clean-up.

We quickly ate dinner and I let some school friends know we wouldn't be meeting them the next morning. They each are amazing and offered to help right away! I took the kids over to the O'Neals and they kept them for a couple of hours so we could get the floor pulled up and the water removal started. Ben and Andrea have 4 kids and still stepped right up to throw ours in the mix!! Thank you all so so much!

We tracked the water by pulling up the floor and found that it had gone beyond our island into the living room some but not too much at all! It also had only gone though about 2/3 of the kitchen. Mark worked on that while I called the insurance company to begin our claim.

We got the floors pulled up and Mark said he was going to pick up the kids and run to Lowe's so he could get a box fan and dehumidifier. While he did that, I hopped on Facebook to see if anyone had one we could borrow (within 20 minutes 3 families came through with offers to help!) and I ran to our neighbors and our 80 something year old neighbor carried over his huge dehumidifier to help us! This was a huge blessing so that we were able to take care of the water without buying anything or having to call a company to do it for us. We wanted to be safe and to avoid mold but we didn't want to spend a fortune doing it!

We got the kids put to bed about 90 minutes later than usual and then Mark continued the clean-up process while I closed out a book party to help my September sales stats. We were up until midnight but we got most of it done.

Crazy nights like this help me to remember that we are truly so blessed to have so many friends and neighbors who come through for us. Both Mark and I have a hard time asking for help and we like to be the ones giving to others and sometimes it takes an emergency like this to force us to accept help.

The adjuster came out Friday afternoon and we have the claim process started as much as we can. Things are pretty much on hold over the holiday weekend but Mark got the stove and oven moved back in the kitchen so I can cook with more than the toaster and crock-pot. Our fridge is in the hallway and the kids think that is hilarious! Both of the kids love the concrete floor in the kitchen and the fact that everything is all moved around and that really made me happy to see their joy in the chaos.

For now our kitchen looks like this but as I see news-footage from Texas
our kitchen flooding doesn't seem like that big of a deal at all. 

It's going to be a bit of a mess for awhile while we wait for insurance and then for the actual flooring to come in but I hope that we can think of it all as a fun adventure! May we always choose to be grateful and joyful.

"Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, 
for this is God's will for you to belong to Christ Jesus." - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-81

Friday, September 1, 2017

Frugal Friday 208

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Mark worked a shift at his part-time job, had over-time, and I had one Usborne Books & More party.

- Saturday morning the kids and I headed to the Trafalgar library to see a penguin! The library brought in the Wave Foundation from Newport Aquarium and they brought a live penguin! The ladies who came did a great job education us about penguins as well as conservation efforts. The kids loved it!

Look how excited they are!
Thank you to our friend Ann for capturing this great moment!
Photo Credit: Ann Black

Annabeth loved being able to pet the penguin!
What a neat experience!

- Mark was given a gift-card as a "Thank You" from a citizen. He surprised Annabeth with a cake-pop and me with coffee from Starbucks. Thank you. 

- Sunday afternoon we went to a cook-out at Luke and Cassidy's. Annabeth and I made chocolate chip cookies and funfetti cake cookies. Both were gluten free box mixes that we found on sale for $1 earlier this summer. Anytime I find Owen's GF items on a good deal I buy what we have room in the grocery budget for. 

- We went to a birthday party Sunday afternoon as well. As always, I tried to take gifts that included art projects and we also added some bubbles. My kids would blow and chase bubbles all day long and I thought they would be great for this new three year old! We also took a box of hand-me-downs for the birthday boy and their family gave us some magazine racks that we will use in our school room. 

- I found a coupon for a FREE notebook at Meijer in my mPerks. The kids don't need it for school this year but I went ahead and got it and saved it for later.

- We had a $4 reward in our mPerks. I always try to use these rewards to buy items for the Weekend Meal Bags we fill at the Church of God in Franklin. We were able to purchase 16 applesauces for the bags. We will be filling our first bags of the school year on September 9th - please let me know if you would like to help donate to this great project!

- I organized a HUGE tote of books given to us by our friends the Gish family. They have loaned us around 75 books for our homeschool! Thank you all so much!

Frugal Fail:
- We ate out three times this week! UGH! We try to only eat out two times a month as a family and we just blew that in the last week. We were out of town for a week and then we got back I had so much cleaning, laundry, and mail to deal with that I didn't get a meal plan/grocery list made and it got crazy. We will do better this week! 

We are looking forward to Labor Day Weekend and hoping that Mark gets some time off so we can enjoy some family time! Although the kids and I enjoyed all the above activities, it would have been wonderful to have Mark along too.

Happy Savings to All! 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Frugal Friday 207

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I had one Usborne party and Mark worked two nights at his part time job.

- I received my Ebates check for this quarter. As always, it was added to Owen's savings account.

- We spent Friday-Wednesday visiting my family in Evansville and Owensboro. Here is an over-view of the (mostly free!) fun we had:

Friday - The kids and I drove down after a doctor's appointment. We spent the afternoon playing in the backyard with Mama. My parents treated us to sushi dinner at Fujiyama (Annabeth's very favorite)

Wheelbarrow Rides from Grandpa after our sushi dinner

Saturday - We drove down to Owensboro to spend the day with Momaw. Annabeth enjoyed playing at the Owensboro library and the kids also enjoyed the playground and splash pad at Legion Park.

Sunday - After church, we headed to the mall to use free carousel ride coupons sent to us by a friend, and blog reader!, Miss Scarlett. While at the mall Annabeth got her ears pierced and we shopped three stores using coupons to save lots of money!

 Monday - We drove to the Cache River State Natural Area (just outside Vienna, IL) to view Totality of the total eclipse. I will say that watching through the glasses was kind of "oh, okay..." but then Totality happened and it was just incredible! My Uncle John had suggested us going to this nature preserve and we were there with just around 100 people and it just went quiet. Everyone was literally awestruck. What an awesome moment - thank you God! We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the nature center and made two little stops on the way home to see some unique Illinois trees. Neither of the kids had been to Illinois and it was special to see such an incredible display of God's power with our family (we went with my parents, sister, and two of my uncles)

My dad captured this moment of Totality.
While I have seen many incredible pictures,
none have actually done it justice. God is so good! 

Tuesday - We had a Transportation Field Trip Day. We started off the day at the Evansville Regional Airport. We looked at the ticket counters, baggage claim, and security. We were able to see one plane land and one take off. Then the kids had fun playing on an indoor play-gym on display. That night we went to Red Bank Library to enjoy a presentation by the Evansville Fire Department. Owen is REALLY into fire trucks so he was in heaven! He loved the truck!

Owen loved the fire truck! Much to his LEO Daddy's dismay he is a total fire kid! 

We are back home and looking forward to a great weekend!

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Frugal Friday 206

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Saturday morning we visited the Downtown Franklin Farmer's Market for some fresh green beans and peaches. We also stopped by our new Pet Smart store for fish filters and the kids loved watching all of the fish.

- I bought a $10 Starbucks giftcard on Groupon for only $5 OOP. I also went through eBates for 3% cashback.

- Saturday afternoon Mark and I each took turns taking Annabeth out one-on-one. Mark took her to lunch at 'Sun and Moon Mexico' aka the Mexican restaurant closest to our house. She was so excited to have Daddy all to herself. Owen and I enjoyed a quiet lunch at home together. Then in the afternoon, we switched, I took Annabeth grocery shopping and out for Lickity Split snowcones and Mark and Owen played at home. Mark works so much so when we have the chance we really try to split the kids up so we each can have some one-on-one time with them.

So happy to be out with Mama!
She had a Wedding Cake snowball and I had a Birthday Cake one.
We filled our punch-card so our next one will be free!

- Sunday after church we drove up to Trinity and Mark worked and the kids and I attended a fundraiser for one of Mark's scouts. This young man put on a BBQ rib dinner to raise money for his Eagle Project and we are happy to report it is now fully funded and he is ready to move forward! God is good!

- My sister sent the kids and me back-to-school gifts! She sent Annabeth a book signed by the author about interesting creatures, a firetruck book to Owen, and a beautiful "Guide and Inspire" necklace to me. Thank you Lu for making our 5th back-to-school so exciting!

Shop Simply Joyish on Etsy for your own custom necklace! 

- We received a free sample of mouthwash to use and review.

- I received a free magazine subscription and used it to renew the Vogue Magazine subscription that we give my sister.

- We bought laundry soap for the second time this year. We only use Purex and we only buy it when I can get a coupon for each bottle + buy 2, get 1 free at Kroger. We have spent a total of $12 on laundry detergent ALL year!

- I also ordered our dishwasher pods for only the second time this year. I order ours from and each box lasts about 6 months. 

We had a great week, although it felt very lllooonnnggg, because I am SO looking forward to this weekend and for the solar eclipse next week! 

Happy Savings to All! 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Frugal Friday 205

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Saturday we took a huge box of paper to a community recycling/shred day. I was glad to get it out of the schoolroom and to have some records securely shredded for free.

- I finished my summer babysitting job this week. This job allowed us to add quite a bit of money to Owen's savings account and paid the deposit for Annabeth's dance for next year. The Black Family gifted us a beautiful family watercolor made by my friend Olivia - thank you to all of you!

- I hosted an Usborne Book Mystery Hostess Party. My Mystery Hostess earned $20 in free books and $25 in 1/2 price books!

- Saturday evening we hosted a pitch-in dinner. We had a great time with some of our closest friends. We at leftovers for two lunches and Monday night dinner.

- Annabeth and I have been doing facials at home. She is so girly and loves things like this! I love spending an extra 5 minutes with just my girl!

Facial Ladies. 

- I placed an order with Click my referral link for $15 off your first order! I have ordered from them a few times through Zulily but this was my first time actually ordering from their site. I signed up as a new customer and got 15% off my order + free shipping! I also earned 2% cashback through Ebates. We also got three freebies with our order - a package of pasta, a granola snack, and (much to Annabeth's delight) Annie's gummies.

- We spent most of the week outside. It has been beautiful, especially for August, so we have taken advantage! We have also been enjoying the park and pool being pretty empty since our local schools went back to class on Wednesday.

- Last night the kids and I enjoyed $2/person admission to the city pool. We had a great time swimming!

We have had such a good week! Everyone in my house is pretty happy when we can just live outdoors!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

How Seeing My Daughter's Allergist Changed MY Life!

Last month I posted about being a Food Allergy Mama.
What I wasn't quite ready to write about was how seeing our daughter's allergist changed MY life.

As a young child, Annabeth has always reacted (with hives) to peanuts and over time her reactions to dogs/cats have worsened (to more severe hives and difficulty breathing). But this summers reactions that sent us to the Emergency Room two times totally changed the way that I viewed her food allergies. They went from something we worked to avoid to something I was losing sleep over.

We had a 7 week wait to see an allergist and so in the meantime we avoided what we thought the trigger foods were and asked family and friends to do the same. Everyone else was so calm, "Okay. We'll be nut free when we see you." And that was that.

When I talked to Mark and my family everyone said, "Okay. We'll check the labels again" or "It's okay, we'll figure it out." But I was FREAKING OUT! I think maybe my parents and Mark could sense that and thought I needed them to be calm for me. But I didn't!

Both of Annaebth's reactions happened when I was alone with the kids. I was the one ripping her clothes off, washing her skin, giving medicine, trying to get shoes on everyone and to herd them out the door, watching her choke-vomit-wheeze, and I was the one who had to make the drive to the hospital - keeping her talking to me so I knew she was okay. It was me, alone. And it was terrifying.

We saw the allergist and he was the first person who said the things I needed to hear:
- This is serious.
- This is life changing.
- You will have to change how you grocery shop, go in public, visit other people's houses.
- He gave me a new protocol for how we should eat out or visit places like the Children's Museum
- Avoidance and also carrying two epi-pens are her two best chances at surviving another exposure to her worst allergens
We spent hours in his office as he walked me through all of the things we needed to change. He validated all of the precautions I had been taking and also all of my fears. He was the first person who really listened as I talked. He was the first one to completely agree with all of the changes we had made. He was the first person who seemed to understand how I felt and for that I am so grateful.

The first grocery trip after seeing the allergist, took over an hour and ended with me sobbing in my car. Our allergist said it is now necessary to watch for "may contain..." items in addition to items that do contain the allergens. It completed changed the way I grocery shopped - especially because Owen is gluten free and many gluten free items are made with almond flour which we are not to have in the house anymore. It took twenty minutes just to find a pancake mix that everyone could have.

I have stayed home a lot this summer out of fear. Because we still are not sure of what caused the reaction at the Children's Museum (a reaction that within 20 minutes had her covered in hives and struggling to breathe) every time we go somewhere I worry. I wash things, I wash her hands, we don't eat in public and yet the fear is there. Is it going to happen today? What will cause it?
If you don't have, or your child doesn't have, life threatening allergies you may think this is crazy.
It's not - it's life saving.

I share this because I need the people in my life to know how I feel. I need people to understand that the responsibility I have for her safety is huge and it is mostly mine. I am the one who reads the labels, who gives the medicine, who has to change her clothes/shower her/do her breathing treatment just so we can visit someone who has a pet. It's exhausting and it's not going to change. This is her life, her reality and having the allergist say to me: "You're job just got really hard" was the best, most validating thing that anyone could have said to me. It changed my life to have someone take me seriously.

If you are interested in more information I think this page is quite thorough and helpful.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Frugal Friday 204

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I closed out my first Cards for a Cause fundraiser with Usborne. This fundraiser raised $425 for the ladies that did it! Please let me know if you or your organization would be interested as I would love to help you earn money for your group as well!

- I continued my summer babysitting job and had one Usborne party.

- Mark worked one night at his part time job. He also worked National Night Out - an event focused on putting police officers and the public together in a peaceful, positive setting. This event felt very important this year as just last week an officer was killed in a neighboring community.

- I finished a sewing project last week and added it to our wall. I love how it turned out!

 This is the first sewing project I have completed in years!
We do in fact love where we live!
I paired it with this great coordinates Franklin, IN sign 
by Charming Willows and purchased at Vintage Whimsy  

- We did a bit of back-to-school shopping for Annabeth. As we have worked on cleaning out her closet for the fall consignment sale, I quickly realized that very little of what she wore last winter will fit again. We hit a sale at Kohl's + 20% off coupon and got her three long sleeve shirts, two short sleeve shirts, and one pair of leggings. Since she has an October birthday, she usually gets fall/winter items then as well but I wanted her to have the fun of back-to-school shopping too!

- Saturday evening we worked on cleaning out and organizing the garage. We found one item to sell and I got it photographed and listed on Facebook garage sale pages.

- Sunday evening we had a cookout with Mark's parents. We took chips and dips, corn on the cob, and squash casserole. They did the meats, fruits, and dessert. They were very kind and sent home tons of leftovers which we enjoyed for several meals. Thank you all!

- Monday evening Mark went and help a friend put up hay. He brought home 4 ears of corn, 3 onions, and 1 green bell pepper as thanks for his work.

- The kids and I participated in our library's summer reading program and I won the Food and Fun prize! I won a $10 McDonald's card, $10 Speedway Gas Card, and a $10 Starbucks card! Woohoo! Thank you JCPL! 

- Wednesday night the kids and I enjoyed a swim at the Franklin Pool. After 5 pm it is just $2/person to swim.

We had a great week and are fully back into our school schedule. It feels so good to be back into a good routine again!

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Frugal Friday 203

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I continued my summer babysitting job and had one Usborne Party.

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

- Last Saturday, Annabeth and I worked at our church's garage sale. Annabeth loved playing "store" while helping. She can make anything fun! :)

- We did our grocery shopping in two parts on Saturday. We shopped the Downtown Franklin Farmer's Market for fruits and veggies ($15) and Meijer for the rest ($70). Meijer had some AWESOME mPerks and coupons over the weekend. We saved $4 with paper coupons, $4 mPerks, and another $8 in special mPerks! This is how our grocery bill came out so small this week! Thanks Meijer!

- Saturday evening we headed out to the Campbell's house. We enjoyed a great (HOT!) hike in the woods and dinner with them. Thank you all!

- I took the time to clean out my closet and rid my wardrobe of 24 items!

- We cleaned out Annabeth's hanging clothes this week. She has outgrown ten winter outfits - five went straight to the sale tote and five I photographed and put on Facebook to try to sell.

- Wednesday and Thursday nights Annabeth had a 4 hour dance intensive. Wednesday night Mark, Owen, and I enjoyed Penn Station for dinner. I used a coupon to get one sandwich free and we were all SO happy. It is my favorite sandwich place and we cannot eat there because they cook their fries in peanut oil so we were pumped to have a Mama/Daddy/Owen date while Annabeth was at dance.

- I received our PinchMe box for the month. This month's samples: an all natural shampoo/conditioner, ranch dressing, granola bar bites, all natural bug spray, and zzquil.

- We received two kid snacks and one face mask freebies with our Zulily box this week.

- Our BIG news this week is that we bought a NEW (to us) vehicle! We are so excited to have two family vehicles again, which is becoming more and more necessary as the kids get older and need to be different places at different times.
We had two vehicles until June 2012 when we sold Mark's car because he had switched jobs and was given a take-home-vehicle from work. In October 2015, Mark bought a project truck that has been very fun for him to work on but is not new enough/safe enough to put carseats in so it is the wrong project for this season of life. A co-worker and his family bought a new car and gave us a great deal on their old one. We were able to, Dave Ramsey style, pay cash for our new vehicle. We now have the task of selling the truck.

The kids love "their" new truck! 
We are so thankful that God provided this vehicle to our family. We have been talking about, praying about, and saving for a new family vehicle and this one checked all of the boxes. God is so good!

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Frugal Friday 202

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I had two more Usborne Book parties and continued my summer babysitting job.

- Mark worked at the fair so he will have overtime on his next check.

- My dad was in town last weekend to take a woodworking course near us. We were happy to have him here for dinner and dessert Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. By planning ahead we didn't have any eat out costs - which is rare for when we have company! We also had tons of leftovers from the weekend to feed us through the early part of the week.

- Saturday morning the kids and I enjoyed the Downtown Franklin Farmer's Market. We bought some great produce and also enjoyed some snow cones from Lickity Split. We, of course, also bought bows from Emma's Bows for a Cure.

- Annabeth's friend brought over 10 Bob reading books for us! A is headed into 2nd grade and a great reader so she is way beyond these. We are so thankful that she decided to share!! I love having Annabeth read these easy books to help build her confidence.

- A friend has decided not to do the fall sale but had some items that she wanted to get rid of. She brought them over for us to enjoy or to sell in the sale with our own stuff. Annabeth is THRILLED to have a Princess scooter!! Thank you Andrea!

- I received some freebies with my Clinique order that I didn't want. I mailed them to a friend with two little sheriff themed outfits for her new baby boy. We were happy to pass them along to a fellow sheriff family.

- Monday afternoon we took two books to the Little Free Library and traded two of our old books for two new-to-us books. We also enjoyed the Franklin Story Walk.

- Owen finished his summer reading hours and earned a free book. We chose a book of first words for him.

- A friend gave Mark a free (3 lb!) zucchini from his garden. It gave us two meals worth of veggies!

- Last summer we received notification that we were eligible to be part of a class action lawsuit against our old mortgage company. I filled out all of the paperwork and promptly forgot about it. This week received our settlement check! ($17.04) We added it to Owen's savings account.

- Yesterday morning we did a huge toy clean-out in the living room and then after dinner we took two hours and cleaned out Annabeth's room. The kids picked a huge box of toys to donate and 8 nicer toys that I will try to sell at the Fall Consignment Sale.

- We started school this week - it was SUPER hot so this was a great week to start since we needed to be inside for the hot parts of the day. Annabeth started 1st grade and Owen began 2-year-old-pre-school.

 Owen's 1st Day of Pre-School
Hit hot-wheels car had to come too
Annabeth's 1st Day of 1st Grade
This rainbow dress has been her absolute favorite this summer. 

We hope everyone is enjoying these last few weeks of school and are also looking forward to heading back to school soon!

Happy Savings to All! 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Food Allergy Mama

Over a bagel with peanut butter spread, I became a Food Allergy Mama in 2013.

For 3.5 years, we avoided any kind of significant reaction. This summer one bite of one granola bar changed that.

In late May and early June, Annabeth went to the Emergency Room twice due to allergic reactions to new foods. It was terrifying as a parent to make that drive to the ER and it was even scarier for our little girl.

This past week, we finally (we waited 7 weeks for this appointment) saw an allergist and went from just avoiding peanuts to results that show that she has life-threatening allergies to peanuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, coconuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts.

Over the years, I have mastered the no-peanuts. I can rattle off a safe or not-safe list to just about anyone who asks. We know what restaurants to avoid. I can shop the grocery without even looking at the boxes anymore.

But the tree nut thing means starting all over. Over the years, avoiding peanuts, means we've generally avoided all nuts just because they are so often processed together. We only buy specialty cookies and pre-made snacks that are made in nut-free factories. But now we have to really look, really read. We have to recheck all of the restaurant websites. We have to educate ourselves about the alternative names for these nuts and where they might be found.

Being a Food Allergy Mama is exhausting. It's mentally taxing.

I feel like I am always on high alert:
Did you call the restaurant before we came?
Did you ask the waitress what those french fries were cooked in?
Did you make that birthday cake at home? Do you have a nut free kitchen?
Is that peanut butter on your kids shirt?!
No, not even a "little bit" is okay (My Momaw is always saying "I just put a little, tiny bit of peanut butter in it so Annabeth can still have it)

It's hard because she has to miss out:
That cake is from Kroger, it's not safe.
Oh, that princess event at Chic-Fil-A looks great but they cook in peanut oil.
The birthday party is at an ice cream bar? Is it nut free? No? Don't even show her the invite.
Everyone else is eating a granola bar and she can't.

I worry that people will think I am crazy for quizzing them before I allow Annabeth to eat at their house or their child's birthday party. I worry that people are insulted when I say that full list (but for the record, I never knew coconuts were a nut! I thought they were a fruit so I just want everyone to be clear on that too)

Most of all, it's scary. It's really, really scary.
Her second ER trip was following a morning at the Children's Museum. We went, we played, we had the same lunch we always have, and on the drive home her entire body swelled, covered with hives, and she asked to go to the hospital while gasping for breath. It was just a normal morning out, no new foods, no bakery, no nuts, and there we were in the ER.
I have been so afraid the rest of this summer. We went to summer camp and I took every single meal. We have played with friends and I have taken her lunch every time. I was an anxious mess trying to eat breakfast at a hotel worried about who had touched what before she did.
I don't want to be afraid or anxious and I certainly don't want to scare her but I also want to always be ready.

On the flip side, being a Food Allergy Mama has allowed me to help those who have come after us. I don't know how many people have messaged me with questions. I am by no means an expert but I always try to offer words of encouragement and support.

I am so incredibly thankful for everyone who has checked in this summer. Thank you for everyone who made Annabeth cards or took the time to call her to check in after she was in the hospital. Thank you to every person who says, "What kind of snack can I bring so Annabeth can enjoy it too?" and to every friend who makes a special dessert at their child's birthday party just for her. Thank you to every friend who sends me food labels before letting their child bring a snack into my home. Thank you to everyone who understands and respects that our home is nut free. All of those "little things" make this big task of keeping her safe so much easier!

If you are a Food Allergy sufferer or mama, I completely recommend Central Indiana Allergy. I am so thankful for their care and concern and for the treatment plan that they have developed to help Annabeth be as normal as possible while living with something completely abnormal.

If you are interested in more information I think this page is quite thorough and helpful.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Frugal Friday 201

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- A friend posted on Facebook that she was needing to borrow a high chair for weekend company. We happily lent her one of ours and when she returned it she sweetly brought our kids some bubbles and temporary tattoos.

- I continued my summer babysitting job and had two more Usborne parties.

- Mark spent the week at summer camp with his boy scout troop. He is so happy to invest in the lives of young men in the same way leaders invested in him during his scout years. We miss him when he's camping with them throughout the year but we believe he is doing such important work.

- Last week and this week, I allowed Annabeth to borrow a launchpad from the library. We have not used these before but I decided to try something new. She played on each of them for about 20 minutes before completely losing interest. I was quite happy that she doesn't need to be entertained that way but hopefully she enjoyed something different too.

- We baked our favorite chocolate chip cookies on Monday as a thank you for our friends who babysat Owen for us this week.

Thank you again to the O'Neals for keeping this guy for us! 
He makes this cute face and says, "Hi mama!" in a little squeal voice and I can't say "no"
to anything he asks for! 

- We took a package of diapers that we no longer need to a friend's little boy.

- I organized some hand-me-downs for a friend who has a little boy and a baby girl on the way. I look forward to visiting with them soon and passing everything along.

Frugal Fail (sort of)
- Last Saturday Annabeth competed at the Applause Talent Nationals. She had to be there and ready at 7:30 am more than an hour from home. We debated back and forth and ultimately got a hotel room for Friday night into Saturday morning. We had not really planned on this expense and we waited until just a few weeks out to book the hotel so it was a bit expensive. It was not financially frugal at all BUT it saved my sanity! I felt so much calmer and I think Annabeth did so much better being able to wake up later and to get ready in a calm fashion with a 10 minute drive vs. a 60+ minute drive.

We had a great week and the highlight was cheering on Annabeth and Style Dance Academy at Applause Nationals! Annabeth and the "Disco Divas" earned a Double Platinum and 2nd place!!

 Congrats on 2nd Place at Nationals!!!!! 

Happy Savings to All!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Our Homeschool Day Schedule

This is our last week of summer as we are "going back" to school next Tuesday!

We ended school about 8 weeks ago and while we have done plenty of summer learning, it's time to get back into the swing of things. This summer, I have met some new, and some potential, homeschool families and one of the number one questions I get asked is: What does a homeschool day look like?

Here is the schedule we have used the past two years (PreK and Kindergarten for Annabeth) and I plan to use this same schedule again this year:

6:30-6:45 Wake-Up
7-7:45 Breakfast, Morning show for the kids, E-mail check for me
7:45-9 My shower, Annabeth's shower, Start laundry, Chores
9-10:45 Appointments or Errands or if we are home for the day free play.
10:45 Lunch
11:15-12:15 Quiet time for Annabeth/Lessons for Owen (he will begin 2 year old preschool next week)
12:30 Owen goes down for nap
12:30-?? Annabeth's School (This varies day to day depending on how long it takes her to get through her lessons. We do art, music, science in the mornings with Owen so the afternoons are mostly for handwriting, math, and reading/phonics)
4-4:45 Free play for kids/chores for me/make dinner
4:45-5:30 Dinner
After dinner we clean up, play outside, the kids spend time with Mark if he is home, or we head to the studio for dance and gymnastics.
7:30-10 Bedtime. Somewhere in there the kids go to bed and around 10 they are both finally asleep.