Friday, February 24, 2017

Frugal Friday 181

Happy Frugal Friday!

We have had a great couple of weeks between my birthday and vacations.

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

- I rented a one bedroom condo for our vacation. We stayed on Tybee Island which is fairly small with a limited number of weekly rentals in our price range. I knew that I wanted to be on the beach, have a kitchen, and have laundry on site all of which narrowed my search even more. It was over $600 less to have a one bedroom vs. a two bedroom so we went for that! It worked out really well.

- Our condo had a kitchen with a microwave, stove, and full size fridge. This meant that we ate at least 2 meals a day at the condo instead of eating out for every meal.

- Our unit had a regular washer and dryer. I was happy to find a unit with laundry services that were not coin operated. I did about 10 loads while we were gone so I was very glad to have this amenity. It would have been expensive and time consuming to have to use a laundry mat.

- When we first started traveling some, Mark and I started making pressed pennies on trips. We loved, especially as college kids, that they were fun $.51 souvenirs. We continued doing this for each of the kids as they came along. The kids were able to add quite a few to their collection this trip. Annabeth knows that this is what she gets from each place so she never asks for big expensive toys at museums and zoos.

- In addition to the pressed pennies, we brought back lots of sand and shells from the beach. I love when nature provides the memories!

- We planned and budgeted for this vacation for 18 months. I set up a savings plan as soon as we decided to go. We saved money from extra jobs as well as Christmas and Birthday money. We made a budget and we stuck to it.

- My friend Ann sent me a Thank You note and included a set of personalized address labels! It was so sweet of her and I love the labels with our family picture on them. Thank you Ann.

- The kids each received money for Valentine's Day. We added the money to their college savings accounts.

- I received my quarterly Ebates check. I made $5.99 and added that amount to Owen's savings account. In less than two years of using Ebates, I have made back $82.15 and I don't even shop online that often!

- Mark and I have committed to being healthier in 2017 and beyond. I looked into a lot of different exercise plans and quickly realized that our schedule doesn't work well for me to consistently get to the fitness classes offered at our church or a friends church. I looked at some of the MLM type systems and quite honestly they were just insanely expensive. So...I have lost 10 pounds already this year (vacation stalled that for a week or two) by eating healthy, walking in our neighborhood, and by checking out different workout DVDs from the library. All free! :)

- We dog-sat for a friend. She was having her house cleaned so we kept her dog a couple of mornings. She brought over his crate and bed so we didn't have him running all over. The money she paid us became the beginning of our next vacation fund.

Owen LOVES dogs. He was thrilled to have one visiting and spent 
the whole day playing with him.

- Mark worked one shift at his part time job.

It took a few days, especially since Mark left for Winter Camp almost as soon as we arrived home from Georgia, but we are back into the swing of life and school. We are looking forward to a fun weekend ahead.

Happy Savings to All! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Tybee Trip: Days 4-6

Welcome Back!

Monday I covered our Tybee Trip Days 1-3, last Friday I posted about my birthday which was Day 7 of our trip, so today I will wrap up with Days 4-6.

Day 4:
Saturday was our Lighthouse themed day.
In the morning, we were the first people to the Tybee Island Light Station. I was the only one who had ever been to a lighthouse so we all enjoyed seeing this one. Annabeth and I climbed to the top first and she loved it so much that she did it again with Mark! The views were incredible (and so was the workout - whew!)

View from the ground to the top of the lighthouse
We were the first ones there and about 30 minutes early. We let the kids run around
and then I made them take a ton of pictures. I think Annabeth was tired of that by this point. 
View from the top of the lighthouse.
She was so brave and loved running around the top looking at everything. 
We timed our visit really well as just two days later they closed the observation
deck for restoration. I was so glad that we were able to see it all. 

We had lunch back at the condo and Mark stayed back for Owen's nap. I took the chance to go out and do some browsing at some neat art shops I had seen. I knew the kids would not be interested in them, and it would be silly to take a 20 month old to a store with breakables, so I enjoyed about an hour out on my own. I also picked out my souvenir shirt. I had an idea of what I wanted but was having a hard time finding it. Time out without the kids meant I had the chance to look and try on shirts.

Once Owen was up, we took advantage of the sunshine and spent the afternoon on the beach. The kids loved swimming in the tide pools! Tybee Beach is really neat because there is the soft sand, then a tiny hill, tide pools, and then about 50-100 yards of hard, packed sand before you get to where the ocean comes in. This was perfect since our kids are so young and not swimmers yet. I loved that they could swim in the shallow tide pools, the deepest one came to Owen's chest, far away from the waves and current of the ocean.

Annabeth was happy to finally get out her new Frozen swimsuit.
She loved, loved, loved swimming and we couldn't get her out of the water!
Mr. O had his tongue out almost the whole time - we call it "Tasting the Wind" 
Beach Babies. 

We finished out the day with dinner on our porch from Lighthouse Pizza. It was wonderful!

Day 5:
Sunday morning we woke up, had breakfast, and took a long family beach walk. Owen made it 3/4 of a mile before his legs were just too tired to keep going. I was impressed - that is really far, especially on sand, for someone who has only been walking for 3 months!

After our walk, Mark took the kids back for lunch at the condo and I headed to Trinity Chapel UMC for worship. I enjoyed an encouraging service with the sweet church members there. It was really special as that Sunday they dedicated prayer shawls and prayed over meal bags - just like our church here. It is always nice to be reminded that the work of God is being done everywhere.

After naps, we headed out to the beach for another afternoon in the sun and sand. This was the warmest day of the trip, about 75 degrees, and we spent a great afternoon out on the beach! Owen tired out after a couple of hours so I took him back to the condo and Mark and Annabeth stayed out even longer.

This picture of Mark and Owen is one of my favorites from the trip.
I love adventuring with my family.
I am including this one because this is Owen's "Adam Pitt" face.
I often see my cousin Adam, my Grandma Chico, and my Dad in Owen's faces.
He, obviously, looks basically like a Mini-Mark but every now and then I see some of my Riley* blood.
Any of the Pitts or Kuhns agree with me?

We enjoyed a seafood dinner at The Flying Fish to wrap up the day. I encouraged everyone to try conch fritters and everyone liked them! I am so glad that we all liked seafood! The kids are each picky about what kids of birds and mammals that they eat but we all eat all seafood!

Day 6:
We woke up and headed to Oatland Island to visit the Oatland Nature Preserve. This was such a neat place! We were able to walk some long, beautiful trails and we were able to see different animals we would see at home on a nature preserve. The Nature Preserve sustained some real damage last fall in the hurricane and is currently working on rebuilding. Even with part of it under construction, this was a favorite stop for many of us on the whole trip.

Georgia woods certainly look different than Indiana woods! 
We loved all of the beautiful moss hanging on the trees. 
Mark and Owen. 
Owen is obsessed with Mark right now and refuses to do anything unless
Mark is doing it too. It's adorable. 
My blue eyed babies in front of some Georgia wetlands.

After more than three hours of hiking, we headed back to the condo for lunch and nap. I took a long walk down the beach to the Tybee Pier. As I made the turn around to come back, I found part of a broken sand dollar on the beach. I was SO excited! I love sand dollars, and have purchased many in the past at gift shops, but have never found my own on the beach. I carefully took the pieces back to the condo, excited to show everyone. Owen was still asleep, so Mark and Annabeth headed out to the beach. They came back a few hours later with a WHOLE sand dollar! I could not believe it! Annabeth said it was my birthday gift from her and it is perfect!
My perfect sand dollar. 

I am so thankful that we were able to take this trip. I am thankful for everyone who asked me to babysit, for the consignment sale successes, and all of the little ways we made extra money in the past 18 months to save up for this trip. I am also thankful to the grandparents for buying the kids new swimwear and warm weather clothing for Christmas so we would be ready for the trip. I feel so blessed that we were able to spend a week away together, just the four of us, without Mark being calling into work. It was lovely to spend time in nature with the people I love the most. I cannot wait to see where our adventures take us next...

*Fun Fact: I am just as much of a blood-Riley as Mark is! My grandma was born Carolyn Sue Riley and only became a Kuhn upon marriage. Since my grandma carried the Riley name, it was lost as our family surname upon her marriage but the blood remains the same. When I met Mark, and realized I wanted to marry him, I called my grandparents to make sure that our Rileys were not closely related. It is a very common surname in Ireland and I was relieved to hear that in all of the genealogy research Grandpa Chico had done that he couldn't find any of Mark's Rileys. On St. Patrick's Day, I always reference the fact that our children are Double Irish, Double Riley kids and that is why! :) 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Tybee Trip: Days 1-3

About 18 months ago, I decided that I wanted to spend my 30th birthday at the beach. I did a lot of research and number crunching and we decided to visit Tybee Island, GA for my trip. After more research and lots of saving - we made the trip last week! We were gone February 8-15 and had a wonderful family vacation! This was our first big trip since our honeymoon to Florida and, obviously, our first big trip as a family.

I took hundreds of pictures and made tons of notes so I thought I would just do a two-part overview.

Today I will cover Days 1-3:

Day 1:
Mark and I woke up at midnight, we had loaded the car earlier in the evening, put the kids in the car and headed south. We stopped for breakfast at a rest stop in North Carolina and lunch in South Carolina. We made it in 14 hours and were able to spend about 2 hours on the beach our first afternoon. It was about 60 degrees and cloudy but we had a great time anyway!

 Mark, Owen, and Annabeth - all getting their first glimpse of the ocean!
It was fun to see all three of them experience the ocean for the first time together.

Day 2:
We woke up and walked over a mile down to the Tybee Pier. We enjoyed the morning exploring the pier and surrounding beach. We took a field trip to the Tybee Marine Center. 

We went back to the condo for lunch and Owen's nap. Mark stayed in with Owen and Annabeth and I went to the beach. For MONTHS she has been talking about wanting to build sandcastles so we built sandcastles!
 Mark and I gave her a colorful sandcastle kit for Christmas.
She decided that many of her little Shopkins and toys needed to go to the beach too.
They looked cute decorating her sandcastle.
The seagulls thought they were crackers and kept trying to steal the tsum-tsums!

After hours out on the cold, windy beach I convinced her to go back to pick up the boys and so we could walk to the playground near our condo. It ended up being closed for repairs! I then suggested the library which was also close by. The library was closed as it was Thursday. Annabeth started crying and crying "Why would you bring me to a closed park?! Why is the library closed? I want to play...." Mark quickly suggested we go back, get the car, and go exploring. He drove into Savannah and we found a park for the kids to play. They were so happy! We had dinner at The Pirate House in Savannah. Annabeth loved dressing like a pirate!

Ahoy Matey! Pirate Annabeth

Day 3: 
We drove back into Savannah to spend the day at the Children's Museum of Savannah. This museum is so neat and currently all of it is outside. It was about 50 degrees, apparently very cold for Georgia as people were very bundled up, so we had the WHOLE museum to ourselves for over an hour. Eventually four other children came but we loved running the place by ourselves! It was so fun! The museum is currently fundraising so it can continue to add on and build. I highly recommend a visit to anyone who lives near or is visiting the Savannah area.

 Owen enjoyed building with giant building blocks.

Annabeth loved the outside library!

On our way back to the island, we stopped at The Crab Shack for a meal. Mark had his doubts, we had to drive down a gravel road towards the shack that looked a bit creepy, but I convinced him to stay. We had our best seafood meal of the trip! We also enjoyed showing the kids the gator pond with live gators and their bird shack where they have rescue birds.  

 This was our favorite place! We loved it so much we went back again the next week! 

We spent the rest of the day taking long walks on the beach. Both of the kids just loved being out on the sand - Annabeth loved hunting for shells and Owen loved following the seagulls.

Come back Wednesday to see what we did on Days 4-6 of our Tybee Vacation! 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Valentine's Day 2017

Happy (Belated) Valentine's Day!

Since my birthday is on Valentine's Day our rule has always been that Valentine's are for breakfast and then the rest of the day is my birthday.

The kids woke up around 6:15 (this missed the memo that they were supposed to sleep in for my birthday)
We all exchanged Valentine's before the sun came up and then enjoyed the rest of the day as my birthday.

Opening their Valentine's.
I packed a book for each one and ring pops from home.
I also gave them each a vacation themed souvenir to remember
this Valentine's Day at the beach.  

Owen, enjoying his first ring pop, and playing with his new
Tybee Island Alligator. He loves growling and biting people with it.  

Annabeth with her Valentine's Day mermaid. 
She has been wanting a mermaid doll for so long and she loved
getting one at the beach.

Valentine/Birthday coffee at the Tybean Art and Coffee Bar 

The kids split a chocolate muffin and were in heaven!
They look so cute in their souvenir Tybee shirts! :) 

We hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day celebrating with those you love!

Friday, February 17, 2017


Happy Friday!
This past Wednesday I turned...
and did so on a wonderful trip to Tybee Island! I will return next Friday for a Frugal Friday post complete with money saving vacation tips! This week though, I thought I want to pretend that I am back at the beach!

Here is how I spent #30:

Sunrise over the ocean for my 30th!
This was the view from our condo. Gorgeous!

 Mark and the kids took me for birthday coffee at Tybean Art and Coffee Bar on the island.
We loved that their logo includes an octopus - perfect for us! 

Mark kept Owen in for nap time so Annabeth and I spent a gorgeous afternoon 
out on the sand. She loved swimming in the tide pools and I enjoyed taking lots
of pictures and hunting for shells. 

 Post-dinner beach walk. The last one of the trip.
I love my people so very much!
They all made my birthday so special!

We had an great trip! Check back next Monday and Wednesday for full-trip recaps!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Frugal Friday 180

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.

- Saturday I hosted a junk exchange. We had quite a few people in and lots of junk traded! I walked away with new nail polish, eyeshadow, hair products, and some fun new napkins. After everyone was gone, we loaded up a car and took a car full of items to Goodwill.

- I made a huge crock pot of vegetable soup for lunch for the exchange. We had a huge bowl leftover in the fridge for two additional meals and I froze two bowls for future meals as well.

- My parents were kind enough to bring dessert for the event so I just had to supply lunch.

- One of the families who come to the Junk Exchange has a daughter in Girl Scouts. She was able to sell quite a few extra boxes of cookies at the event.

- Mark's parents hosted a Super Bowl party at their house. We enjoyed sub sandwiches, purchased from a fundraiser put on by the Boy Scout Troop that Mark helps lead, and Kristi's famous chips and dip! We all had fun spending the afternoon together but left before the game began since it was a school night.

- Mark was off Monday and I was able to sneak out to lunch with a friend. Brandi and I always meet at Chicago's Pizza. Mark kept the kids so B and I actually had a full conversation! I was so thankful.

- The kids and I hand delivered as many Valentine's as we could to save on shipping. We are going to be traveling some this month so we did all of our Valentine's a bit early.

We are had a great week and I am looking forward to my Birthday Week next week!

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Frugal Friday 179

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Mark worked two nights at his part time job.

- Sunday I spent the day in the Louisville area on a Girls' Day with my best friend. We had so much fun getting coffee and talking, eating lunch and talking, and shopping and talking (we do love talk and doing it kid free was such a blessing!) I enjoyed a wonderful day for under $30.

- Mark's parents came down Sunday to spend the day with Mark and the kids. I made chilli in the crock-pot for lunch, instead of eating out, and Mark said they had a fun day playing together.

- Mark had to get a prescription filled. I used goodrx, and a coupon from the site, to save $11 and find the lowest price in town. I love using their site - especially in this case because the RX would have been over $30 if we had just used our regular pharmacy instead of price checking.

- Mark and I have committed to a healthier lifestyle this year. We are using the free sections of My Fitness Pal and earning money with our healthy choices through Achievemint.

- Tuesday we went to lunch with a friend. We took advantage of Kid's Eat Free Day (saving $9.98) and Cynthia shared a free appetizer coupon. Cynthia's husband is serving in our military and they will be moving in just a few short weeks. We have loved having them here and will miss them so much. If you have a moment, please pray for their family as they prepare for this move.

- We are working REALLY hard on picking up all of the toys every night. We became a bit lax about that last fall and I want to really get back into the swing of cleaning up every night.

Mr. O helping me vacuum. Thanks Bud!

We had a good week this week. Lots of changes in plans but I am thankful that I have been learning to adjust to things like that! Maybe I am finally getting older and wiser as I near 30 :) 

Happy Savings to All! 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Looking back on my 20-29th Birthdays

This month I will turn 30.
The big 30!
How did that happen?!
I was just freaking out about turning 20!
I have had some fun looking back at pictures from my 20s and thought I would share one from each of my birthdays!
The girls on my floor threw me a "Over the Hill" party because I was so sad to see my teen years ago.
We played Apples to Apples and it was so much fun. 
Mark came down from Franklin to surprise me and we exchanged Valentine's. 
My gift to him was this silly blow-up octopus ring-toss. 
It was the octopus that started ALL of the octopus items since then. 

Out at the Cheesecake Factory for dinner with my best friends from college. 
Leah and Daniel saw me through SO much! I can never thank them enough for their support!

This was taken at my parents house. We went out to dinner with my parents and LucyAnne
for my birthday and Valentine's Day. This was our last engaged Valentine's Day. 

We moved into our first house just days before my birthday.
Mark had decorated the whole living room with balloons and streamers as a surprise. 
This was such a special birthday as we celebrated our new house as well!

I was about 6 weeks pregnant with Annabeth and SO SO SO sick :( 
I don't even think we went to dinner or anything. I got dressed to make my 
annual birthday picture and that was all.  

I love this picture! Baby Annabeth was so beautiful and wide-eyed. This was a lovely
birthday and Mark and I had so much fun getting Annabeth a sweet, little Valentine's Doll to
celebrate the day.  

We met at the Franklin Starbucks for lunch since Mark had to work.
I was so happy to just spend the rest of the day with my sweet little Nanners. 

We had planned to go to Evansville for the weekend but a huge snow storm came through.
 I refused to let go of going home for my birthday so we drove in the snow. The usual 3ish hour trip took more like 6. I am not sure anyone else thought it was worth it but I was so happy to be home!

I was about 24 weeks pregnant and was more than happy to eat about half
of that giant frosted cookie cake all on my own! We had just found out that #2 was definately a boy
and I was so thrilled to have a healthy, Owen Merit on the way! 

My last birthday in my 20s. Mark was gone all week, of course, so my family came up to
spend my birthday weekend with us. Mark got home late that evening and he and the kids surprised me with sweet, personalized gifts from Etsy.

I feel like life changed so much in my 20s. I started it in my second year of college and over the years I graduated, had and lost jobs, got married, had more jobs, and added Nanners and O to our family. I am so incredibly thankful for all of the blessings I received in my 20s and I look forward to where the Lord will take me in my 30s. Happy Birthday Month to Me!