Sunday, December 30, 2018

Top 5 Most-Read Posts of 2018

Thank you all for a wonderful year of reading and sharing!
I love blogging because I love sharing our lives and (hopefully) encouraging others in the process!

Here is a countdown of our Top 5 Most Read Posts of 2018:

#5 My 2018 tribute to 9/11. Thank you all for remembering with me. May we all move forward with love.

#4 A post from early in the year based on a beautiful statement of Annabeth's. I am so richly blessed to be home full-time and homeschooling full-time. So thankful that I don't have to miss it all

#3 Our 9th Anniversary Post. Mark and I have grown so much in love and I am so thankful to have a love story that I want to share! God has truly blessed us and we hope to glorify him by honoring our marriage vows and encouraging others in Christian marriage.

#2 My 2018 Banana Box Sale review was read hundreds of times, probably based on that awesome picture of all the food I got at a great deal! I love finding, and sharing, good deals!

#1 Frugal Friday 267! It makes sense that my most read post of the year would be one of my weekly ones. Thank you to every one of you who has read my Frugal Friday posts for 276 weeks now!

Thank you again to each of you for stopping by the blog today and any other day that you have.
I love having you as part of our journey in Life and Love.

Thank you for being part of our 2018
and we cannot wait to share 2019 with you as well!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Frugal Friday 276

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last Friday, Mark attended our city employee Christmas luncheon. He said they had a very nice lunch, were each gifted a very nice city logo umbrella, and Mark's door prize had $40 in giftcards to various places to eat around town!

 The kids very much enjoyed the Christmas Dinner put
on by the Franklin Police Department
Photo Credits: Belle Amie Photography

- We did a deep clean of both kids' rooms. I think I worked about six hours between the two rooms. But they are completely organized and four trash bags left the house as donations, recycling, or trash. Each of the kids had also outgrown some of what was in their dressers so I organized all of that for the sale tote and got out larger sizes from their grow into totes. It was a TON of work but I love having it done! We also worked about two hours in the school room.

- We finished the book of Luke. We set a family goal to read a chapter a day leading up to Christmas Eve. We missed a few evenings but did catch up and finished Chapter 24 on Christmas Eve before church.

- Mark worked overtime and I wrapped up end of the year business with my Usborne Books & More business.

- We had a simple, fun Saturday last week. Mark worked so the kids and I cleaned house, went to the library for a huge new stack of books (Annabeth is into King Tut right now so we're exploring Egypt at the moment), and then had breakfast at Don and Donna's - made affordable by the fact that they include drinks with the buffet and Owen is free! We enjoyed an afternoon of Christmas movies and once Mark was home we ate freezer pizza and all four played Apples to Apples Disney. The kids were so much fun! Owen lost interest after the first game so he just ran circles around the game table screaming while we played again.

- We enjoyed multiple church services leading into Christmas as well as many days with Mark's family. I am so thankful for our church family and our family.

- The children received many great games for Christmas and we enjoyed playing them each evening after dinner. The kids quickly learned that Mark is a game master and he is especially great at detective style games (surprise, surprise as he is a trained investigator, haha!) like Guess Who? and Clue.

- I rearranged our living room and breakfast room. I have completely turned the breakfast room into the kids' toy area. Our living room no longer has toys spilling everywhere! We are so excited to have, for the first time in this house, a kids' living space and an adult living space.

- I had to run to Meijer for a quick pick up of necessities I had accidentally left off the grocery list last week. I scored a few items on Christmas Clearance 50% off - 2 rolls of wrapping paper (each of our kids' gifts are wrapped in their own paper on Christmas morning) and a toothpaste/2 toothbrush set for $3! Just the toothpaste would usually be about that much so I felt like I got the toothbrushes free.

- Now that I have a fancy smartphone, I decided to finally use the Ibotta grocery app. My sister-in-law is an amazing couponer/app user and I am learning from her! Join Here.

We are looking forward to a busy weekend celebrating Christmas with more family!

Happy Savings to All!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Big, Scary 2018 Financial Goal UPDATE

About thirteen months ago, I posted about our Big, Scary 2018 Financial Goal. You might want to read that post first so you can see what we wanted to achieve.

As promised, here is my update: We were able to achieve about 1/3 of our goal!

Not perfect, not 100% but I am still so excited about the progress we made on our home mortgage.

This past year was a very expensive medical bill year for us (nearly $8,000 in medical bills have been paid in CASH by our family) Mark has also changed jobs which has affected our income and his part time work. Despite these changes we have remained committed to not taking out credit cards or loans and editing our finances to pay cash for all that we want/need.

If you read the comments on that original post, my wise friend Abbi wrote: "I am excited for you making this goal. I think it is great to stretch ourselves but then also be able to give ourselves grace should something come up that causes it not to work out." I have held on to that advice many times this year as our money wasn't able to go where we wanted it to go. 

Were we 100% committed to only achieving this goal? Absolutely not. We still ate out, we still did some little trips, we still had extras. Could we have been more committed? Absolutely! Will we keep working on it in 2019 ? YOU BET!

We have now been in our home 5.5 years and very much dream of having it paid off in the first 15 years that we are in it! We cannot wait to "owe no man anything but love"

What were your 2018 financial goals? How did you do on them? What are your goals for 2019?

Friday, December 21, 2018

Frugal Friday 275

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Friday we had a little Christmas party with some of Annabeth's school friends. We hosted and had two different ornament crafts (Victorian Paper Fans and Cinnamon Cut Out Ornaments) and decorated cookies.

- Friday evening Mark enjoyed the Boy Scout Adult Christmas party with his friends from scouts. He had a great night out with friends.

- Saturday I joined two other ladies at their Holiday Open House. I had a decent sales day and more importantly made some great new contacts for my Usborne Books & More business!

- Sunday morning Annabeth performed in our church's Christmas Cantata. She was overjoyed to play handbells and play a shepherd. We are so thankful for our church family and especially Miss Clara, Miss Becky, and Miss Terry for all of their hard work preparing the little girls for their handbell performance. After church, Mark and the kids went to lunch with many of the Rileys.

In their Sunday best, 
at our church Christmas Cantata.

- Sunday after church I went up north for a baby shower. One of my very oldest friends is welcoming her first child. I was able to see friends from my school years and it was so wonderful to celebrate with them.

- I listed a climbing toy on Facebook. Sold to a friend who picked up at our house. Made: $60

- We ordered from Imperfect for the first time. It is a company that sells "imperfect" produce and delivers straight to your door. You can choose which kind of box you want (fruit, veggie, or combo) and can hand pick which ones you receive. You can also see exactly what is "imperfect" about it. We did the small fruit box and the fruit that came looked just like the fruit from our local Meijer or Kroger! You can save $10 by using my link here Imperfect Produce.

- I ordered one item on Black Friday. I got an awesome deal (which I mentioned on the blog that week) It never came and shipping never updated beyond "Ready to Send" So I called for a refund. It was out of stock so they couldn't replace and I got a full refund. They did say if it happened to ever show up that it was mine to keep. It came Wednesday! Woohoo! I am excited to have it totally free!

- Wednesday night the kids and I enjoyed the Christmas party at their dance studio. We had dinner and played games. The kids each took and got a fun gift (we took Usborne books of course!) and they each got a snowglobe picture frame which Owen especially loved.

- Yesterday we met friends in Shelbyville for a fun morning at the Grover Museum and to play at the Shelby County Library. We were treated, totally as a surprise, for lunch by our sweet friends the O'Neal Family - thank you all! The kids and I also stopped by the Shelby County Friends of the Library bookstore and got 6 new books for $11. We scored a book about the presidents, one about the first ladies, a book about women heroes of the Revolutionary War, one about women heroes of the Civil War, an African folk tale, and an AWESOME book/kit about King Tut complete with archeology kit and journal. We'll be happy to stop there again while in town.

- I donated a $40 Usborne Books & More Christmas/winter themed basket to the Franklin Police Department's Christmas Party. It was fun to see the family who won it open the books and begin reading to their little girl right away!

- Last night, we enjoyed Mark's work Christmas party. It was nice for me to meet many of his new co-workers. The kids each enjoyed getting a gift (again, a book) and we had a very nice dinner. Officer Floyd also made sure that every family had a door prize to take home. Owen was very happy with his Key Bank travel mug and Annabeth loved her sparkly bracelet. Thank you FPD for a nice evening.

We are looking forward to a wonderful Christmas weekend.
We are praying that your eyes and hearts are focused on the Lord and his birthday celebration this week.
Merry Christmas and Happy Savings to All!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Frugal Friday 274

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I did my first vendor fair with my Usborne Books & More business. I had a good sales day and resisted many great purchases from other vendors. I did buy one piece from a fellow LEO family. I also had a great 30 minute chat with an 8 year old who knew just about everything about dinosaurs and African animals.

- Mark and his parents took the kids to our church's annual Breakfast with Jesus and Santa. They had a good morning and enjoyed supporting that fundraiser for our church.

- My sister came to town and took Annabeth down to the Trafalgar Library for an American Girl event. She enjoyed borrowing Aunt Lu's American Girl doll and making crafts. I love that this event was fun and free!
Annabeth making a gingerbread house
at the event with Aunt Lu. 

- Saturday evening my sister and I took Annabeth downtown to the Circle. I paid for dinner. It was Annabeth's first time at Hard Rock Cafe so we had dinner and got her a shirt. Then, Lu surprised Annabeth with her Christmas gift which was a carriage ride around downtown Indianapolis. My parents took Lu and I when we were little and it's one of our favorite Christmas memories. We were both so excited to share this with Annabeth as well. She loved all of the lights and I enjoyed showing her Old National and IPL's trees as well. Thank you Lu for a magical night out!

Downtown under the Soldier's and Sailor's Monument

- Sunday, Mark kept the kids, and Lu and I took the afternoon out together. We ate and shopped around downtown Franklin. I was able to finish up a bit of shopping and I was just happy to be with my sister all day. We came home and all decorated Christmas cookies together and then had dinner out.

- Sunday night into Monday I got the stomach flu (I usually have this over New Year's so I am hoping it was early and I am done for the holidays) Lu kindly took the kids to play at the Greenwood Library and out to lunch so I could rest and then clean bathrooms/do laundry without helpers. Thank you Lu!

- I earned a $5 gift card last month through Usborne. Thank you to my team leader Lana for the free Starbucks this week! :)

- Mark and Owen did the grocery shopping. While there, a manager asked them to participate in a loss prevention training. They did it and earned a $5 gift card!

- I received a FREE FULL SIZE product from Garnier Fructise to review. I used the product and wrote my review. While I was not compensated for my review I loved that I got a full sized product vs a tiny sample one and it was one that I liked!

We had a busy week and I am very much looking forward to my final open house of the season tomorrow in Shelbyville.
Also, we would like to invite anyone in the Indianapolis area to our church's annual Christmas Cantata this Sunday. Services are at 8:30 and 11 at Christ United Methodist Church. We hope to see you there!

Happy Savings to All!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Exact Spot.

Mark and I don't exchange gifts. Valentine's Day has always been a card, our anniversary has always been a card, our birthdays have been cards only since having Annabeth. We do help the kids buy the other gifts for Mother's Day and Father's Day but those are very much kid selected (the kids gave Mark a cartoon movie last Father's Day) All that to say... imagine my surprise when Annabeth and I got home from dance last night and I had a package on the dining room table.

I opened it and found this...

I was so excited! How neat! How thoughtful!

Mark said, "Guess where the coordinates are."

I guessed Camp Lakeview. Nope.
I guessed the bridge where I heard that Still Small Voice whisper "this is the man you will marry" and where we were engaged the next summer. No.
I guessed Lutheran Lake. Nope.

He said, "It's where your car was parked the first time we met. The exact place we met."

Oh friends, I cried! (and I am not even a crier!)
Not only had he found this incredibly sweet gift he went so far beyond just getting it done to make it so perfect.

I share this as a reminder to make use of ALL the moments. Other than a three hour break yesterday evening, Mark has been at work since 7:45 yesterday morning and will work all day today. He will come home, change clothes, and go serve up north with his Scout Troop. I have been busy with school, the kids, dance, work, and more. Our lives get busy really fast and we quickly could become, and have in the past, roommates instead of best friends and partners. After an especially difficult spring five years ago, we really purposed to be intentional. Intentional with checking in with each other, helping with the big and little tasks, being present even if our time together is measured in minutes.

I love that he hung this frame right away and I've smiled each time I've looked at it in the past twelve hours. I loved watching him hang the frame with Owen and thinking just how far we've come since we met at that exact spot. I cannot wait to see where else the Lord takes us!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Frugal Friday 273

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Mark worked a shift at his part-time job and I worked my Usborne book business.

- Saturday we had what I would call a perfect day. We packed Meal Bags, stopped by the live Nativity downtown, had coffee and candy canes at Don and Donna's with the Franklin Police Department, and then put up our Christmas tree. In the afternoon, we surprised the kids with Owen's first trip to the movie theater. We went to the Artcraft (just $21 for our movie tickets, water, and popcorn) and enjoyed "The Christmas Story" Owen and Annabeth only enjoyed the popcorn and cartoon preview but Mark and I loved the movie as always. We came home and read the first chapter of Luke and a Christmas chapter in Laura Ingalls Wilder's "The Long Winter." Seriously perfect day.

Owen's first movie theater trip!
He loved eating the popcorn and drank our whole bottle of water

 All year Annabeth has been waiting for this moment.
"Then, Daddy will lift me up and I will put the star 
on the very top of the tree."

Reading "The Long Winter" by tree-light
It may be a new Christmas memory but it's now one of
my very sweetest.

- We shopped for our first family Christmas event and bought snacks for some of our favorite little boys. I used coupons and saved $7.50!

- Tuesday was our 90th day of school. Annabeth finished all three of her main coursebooks and passed her exams. We are excited to be 1/2 way through 2nd grade! We started the next books on Thursday and I plan to have at least 100 days of school in before Christmas.

- Wednesday we celebrated our half-way point by visiting the local museum. Our county museum is free and we enjoyed a bit of play there. Each Christmas local groups decorate trees and the public can vote on their favorite. We each chose a tree for that as well. We had less than an inch of snow but the kids wanted to play so play they did! We also stopped our day to watch the State Funeral of President George H.W. Bush. I didn't ask them to sit through all of it but we did listen as #43 remembered #41.

- I closed out a Cards for a Cause for a friend's group. I was happy to help them earn money towards their fundraising goals.

- Mark decided to relearn German this week. A few nights in I joined him. We are using the free site

- We donated a bag of books and toys to a local charity as part of our pre-Christmas cleanout. I was thankful that the kids, especially Owen, were so generous in giving to others. I was proud to see him give up two big trucks as well as many smaller toys.

- Yesterday my friend Katelyn stopped by to buy books (thank you for supporting my Usborne Books & More business!) AND was kind enough to share her Starbucks BOGO with me! Hot chocolate on a cold day was such a treat. Thank you sweet friend!

And finally, a note about Christmas cards. I have ALWAYS done them (since I was 11!) by the hundreds! I used to write long letters in them to each person, handmade hundreds one year, and after Annabeth was born we switched to the picture cards so we could get a good family picture to everyone in our lives at least once a year. But this year I just don't feel like it. I am not sad about Christmas or unfestive but the thing that was overwhelming me most was looking ahead at the Christmas card list, so I'm not doing it. The kids painted 10 cards earlier this fall and we sent those to their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and to our elderly neighbors and then I was done. And despite the guilt I feel about people being left out it was such a weight off my shoulders. So, there is my Christmas Cards 2018 PSA.
If we sent a card it would say this: We love you, Merry Christmas!

We are looking forward to and fun and busy weekend with family!
If you are local and looking to do some last minute shopping please come see me at Style Dance Academy's Ladies Day Out tomorrow from 9-3! 

Friday, November 30, 2018

Frugal Friday 272

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last Friday, we enjoyed a fun, free program at our local library. The kids enjoyed a storytime, crafts, and meeting "Pinkalicious"

- Saturday I held my Annual Holiday Open House with my Usborne Books & More business. This year I asked my friends Kelly and Ann to bring their businesses and products as well. We had a great turnout and a lot of fun! Thank you very much to everyone who came out.

- Last week I held a Pampered Chef Party. I did not redeem any of my 1/2 price items or purchase any discounted items. I just redeemed my free items ($35 worth) and paid only shipping.

- I splurged and did two mystery bag type deals on Facebook groups I am. I did a Thirty-One one and received a $28 bag + won a $12 unicorn bag + shipped free all for just $20. I also did a LulaRoe one and recieved nearly $100 retail (one top + one skirt + leggings for Annabeth) for just $31! Wow! Thankful for fun surprises that were really affordable!

- We did not do a big grocery trip for over two weeks. This allowed us to truly use up everything in our fridge and pantry.  We did make a quick $20 run for fresh produce in the middle but it really is a good habit to get into every few months.

- I doubled my taco soup recipe and made a batch for a family with a new baby. I was so so thankful when a few friends brought us meals after Owen's arrival. It was such a blessing and I love "paying it forward" now.

- I had not planned on Black Friday Shopping but I ran out of hair spray. I have used the same bottle for 23 months so I decided to see if it was a deal online anywhere. I was able to buy it 50% off + Free Shipping + I had a giftcard for $4.18 to Macy's. I was able to get it for just $7 plus $1.10 cashback through Ebates!

- I got forced into a new phone on Black Friday. My parents surprised me with my first smart phone for Christmas and Mark bought me a protective case. I have had the same phone forever and was not ready to let it go. That being said - I do like having a much better camera and my google calendar on my phone now. Thank you all!

We were at the phone store for hours but Owen
was really quite patient. This was towards the end and he was melting into his waiting chair. 

- I won a holiday shirt from a group of crafty ladies that I love to follow on Facebook and Etsy. They even let me choose my own design. I chose one I had loved on Pinterest and it came this week. I am very excited for Annabeth to wear it for the new few years and then for Owen to wear it later. Thank you to the ladies at Crafting for Morgan!

- It was very cold and we had some snow this week. The kids and I stayed home as much as we could. We are reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Long Winter and it was perfect for this cold, snowy week. We also made paper snowflakes and decorated our windows with them.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Weekend in Evansville and Owensboro with my family.
My favorite moment of the weekend was at my Momaw's House. Owen came running from the kitchen and said, "Mama! I saw God! Come see!" Of course I ran to see who or what Owen thought was God. He pointed to this...

"See?! This is God!
He has sandals just like Jesus!"
Proof my kids really have no idea about Santa Claus 
and that all things point back to Jesus!

Happy Savings to All!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The ONE Word I am Most Thankful For this Thanksgiving

This picture is the one I am most thankful for this year...

We took this at Lutheran Lake, on "our" bridge, the week of our 12th Engagement Anniversary. Mark and the kids humored me while at a cook-out on the lake and we all took a walk to go sit on our bridge and to capture this moment. 13 years before I had heard that Still Small Voice whisper "This is the man you will marry" and then the next summer Mark asked me to be his wife.

Just two weeks after we took this picture, I sneezed in our kitchen while cooking dinner. I sunk to my knees, deep in pain. Mark was gone for the week at scout camp and I sat there terrified of what had happened. Shortly after that, the pain left me. I called my doctor's office, made an appointment, and waited nearly a month. I was in pain and off for that month but was 99% sure I just had a hernia.

At my August doctor's appointment, my doctor agreed that a hernia seemed to be the issue. I waited 2.5 weeks to see a surgeon and then another 10 days for a CT Scan (a $3500 test that our insurance literally paid $4 of) It was another week for that to come back completely clear. No hernia. No anything. In the mean time, I was in horrible pain. I would do very simple chores around the house or take a small walk with the kids and would be doubled over in pain. I walked maybe a quarter mile with Owen and worried that I wouldn't be able to make it back home again. I became more and more worried as I have always had a high pain tolerance

I started over with my doctor and went with what had been our second choice - complications from my endometriosis. It didn't seem to fit that but we felt it best to see a specialist for an ultrasound. Waited weeks for that appointment. Nearly right away they found polyps in my endometrium as well as endometriosis and suggested surgery for the very next week. I have known many who have had cysts and/or fibroids and the difference between those and polyps is that polyps can be cancerous or pre-cancerous. I had surgery on a Tuesday, felt pretty good on Wednesday, and then it all went downhill from there. I spent days in bed, crying, waiting for the pain to end. They had told me that I would "easily" be able to return to work in three days and at the three day mark I could barely move. It took nearly two weeks for me to feel "okay" again and then another week to really feel good again.

Over two weeks out from surgery, I got the results of the polypectomy and from the tumor they found during surgery - ALL were benign.

So, this Thanksgiving, I am most thankful for that word. That beautiful little word - benign. I read the results and just sobbed. I again, in my kitchen, fell to my knees thanking God for the incredible blessing of good health. This year one of my dearest friends was diagnosed with cancer and is fighting the ultimate health fight against it. She is strong and she is brave and I know the Lord will see her through it however He sees fit. I have felt guilty that He saw fit to spare me but that He asked her to fight. As I turned 31 earlier this year, I began to think about getting older and how 32 would mean nearing my mid-thirties...I am now SO thankful to have the chance to get to 32 and Lord willing 52 and maybe even 92. However many days the Lord gives me I pray that I will use them to serve Him and His people. To God be ALL the glory. 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Frugal Friday 271

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Mark worked his part time job and I worked my Usborne Books & More business.

- I shopped online for a baby shower. I earned 1% cashback through eBates and stuck to the registry by not getting distracted in the store by all the cute items! I also saved $1 as I chose the shipping option where everything ships in fewer boxes.

- I finally broke down and checked out the ever popular Grove Collaborative for household goods. I got a free five piece set, free shipping, and $2 back through Ebates with my order (which I felt was a very good deal) I switched to Method household products over the summer and just by cleaning with different products I eliminated the wheezing I usually have while cleaning the bathroom and kitchen AND the excema on my hands that I have treated with lots of expensive soaps/lotions is completely gone with NO flair ups! I was sold on these products! I am excited to try new ones shipped free to my door! (I really stocked up and plan to cancel before the next month's shipment comes) Get your FREE five piece set here.

- Saturday we went bowling as family. It was SO much fun and the first time all four of have bowled together! We all got at least two spares and two strikes! Mark won both games.

- We did a huge clean out of Owen's room and our living room toys. We filled half a large trash bag with broken toys, toys with missing parts, and items like that. We also filled a kitchen trash bag of toys to donate. We saved one nice toy to sell at the Spring Consignment Sale. We always do cleanouts like this before each sale (April and September), their birthdays (June and October), and Christmas but this was our biggest overhaul ever! We have lots of empty totes and shelf space and I feel so free!

- Monday evening I splurged and got my first haircut since Owen was a baby! I have been trimming my ends for years but it had become just a big mess. I was at a baby shower on Sunday and mentioned to my friend, "I need someone who does hair to help me!" The lady across the table said, "I do!" She fit my in the next day and for a great price I got a great haircut. Thank you to Christy Stearns for becoming my new hair lady and making me feel great again!

- This week Annabeth enjoyed two free P.E. classes at Franklin College and Owen enjoyed Preschool Storytime at the Church of God in Franklin.

- I listed and sold 4 winter items on facebook. Made: $25

- We had our first ice of the year. The kids were up around 5:30 yesterday but I managed to keep them in until it was really light around 8. They LOVED it! We are in the middle of By the Shores of Silver Lake and just read about Laura and Carrie's adventure with the wolf on the ice. Annabeth and Owen skated across our patio like they were looking for wolves! I love that they always want to be outdoors, no matter the weather!

"Never be within doors when you can rightly be without"
- Charlotte Mason
"The true way to live is to enjoy everyone moment as it passes, and surely
it is in the everyday things around us that the beauty of life lies"
- Laura Ingalls Wilder  
Owen did not remember icicles or snow and loved mowing with his frozen lawn mower!

We are looking forward to a really fun evening tonight with two local events and then tomorrow is my Usborne Books & More Holiday Open House! I hope to see many of you there!

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Frugal Friday 270

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- The kids and I went to Evansville for a three-day weekend last weekend. I hosted my Evansville Open House with my Usborne Books & More business. It was wonderful to share the books I love with some of my very oldest friends and family. We also enjoyed a great visit with my family and were completely spoiled with meals out at our favorite restaurants and the kids had a museum day/geocaching adventure with my dad while I worked. Thank you all for hosting and helping me have a great first Open House of the holiday season!

- My sister and I swapped clothes. We also traded with a friend. It's nice to have a closet that is always revolving this way!

- Monday morning, the kids and I enjoyed a free musical story from the Indianpolis Symphony Orchestra. This was a great event at our local library.

- I won a FREE leotard from our favorite leotard shop - Mac and Millie! I entered her giveaway in October, forgot about it, but was excited to learn we won a leo! I will add it to Annabeth's Christmas gifts! Thank you to Casey at Mac and Millie!

- I sold a household item on Facebook. We met at the JCSO Safe Meeting Place and encourage others to do the same! Made $10

- A friend posted looking for an item that we have on hand but don't use. I was glad to be able to get it to someone who will use it!

- Mark was off Tuesday for Election Day so after the kids' gymnastics classes we went down to Columbus to play for the day. We had lunch at Zaharakos and then visited the Kids Commons Musuem. My parents gave us the 10 visit punchcard pass last Christmas but we hadn't used it yet! We had a great day playing together! We also ran over to the Kids Commons Playground to play for a bit as well. It was a great day of free play!

 Owen is REALLY into statues right now so Columbus was
super fun for him!
 He laughed so hard! "This place has a giant potty?!"
The Kids Commons Museum gets what makes three-year-olds laugh! :) 
I think Annabeth's favorite part will always be the playground!
She loves to be busy 

- We popped in Meijer for 90% off Halloween! We scored their costumes for next year and a pair of Halloween socks for FREE thanks to that sale and a $6 off our order coupon!

- I received my Ebates cashback. I used it to help pay shipping on our Samaritan's Purse shoeboxes. We filled two boxes this year (Annabeth made a box for a girl her age and Owen made a box for a boy his age) We buy and save items throughout the year when we find good deals and then also did a little shopping trip. We spent $33 on items plus shipping. I think this is such a wonderful way to begin our Christmas season - with our children buying for and, more importantly, praying for children around the world.

- Thursday we took advantage of a free P.E. class for homeschoolers offered at Franklin College. Annabeth will be able to enjoy this class four times this month. Thank you to FC for this great program!

We are looking forward to a fun weekend with MARK HOME AND OFF WORK!!

Happy Savings to All! 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Frugal Friday 269

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last friday we hosted a homeschool class on pioneers in Indiana. Annabeth has loved reading about Kirsten and Laura's rag dolls in the American Girl and Little House books so I knew making one had to be part of the lesson. Mark cleaned out his t-shirt drawers the week before the lesson and I cut them up for the fabric and I got the cotton balls free with a coupon for a completely free project for five little girls. It was so sweet to watch them make and then name their dolls.

Annabeth with her rag doll named Hannah

- Mark worked at his full-time and part-time jobs. I worked my Usborne book business and am excited to have made Month 1 (again) I am hoping for an outstanding November so I can promote to Team Leader!

- Saturday evening the kids and I enjoyed our church's Trunk-or-Treat. We invited some friends as well as Mark's parents and had a good evening with them. We also enjoyed the free dinner put on by our church. Our church was able to feed over 500 guests, free of charge to the guests, as an outreach project that evening!

 Owen REALLY loved Trunk-or-Treat!
He said "Mama! I love this Halloween!"

Policeman O and Shopkins Cupcake Queen 

- My friend Ann and I did a swap. We took them hand-me-downs for her son, an Usborne book, and the IndyStar (her son was in it!!) and she gave us a brand-new pair of black boots for Annabeth to grow into. My favorite price is free so I was very happy to have some shoes to save ahead!

- A fellow dance mom put brand-new tap shoes on our studio's sale page. These tap shoes fit Annabeth and will work for the competition part of the year. Her old ones were glued together so these were very needed. I was happy to be able to buy from a friend and to save shipping costs.

- We made taco soup and brownies to take to our sweet friend Katelyn and her family. They just had a new baby last week and we were excited to take them lunch one day. I loved the sweet newborn snuggles as well!

- Halloween Night we celebrated with a Halloween party at Annabeth's dance studio. We had a rainy Halloween and Mark has just a few hours off between his jobs so it worked well to celebrate indoors with friends. Annabeth especially enjoyed Mr. Tyler and Miss Benni's Halloween themed technique class!

- I won an Amazon giftcard from a group challenge through my book business. This will come in handy as my sister just ordered something through Prime for me and I owed her about $10! Thank you to Sarah Miller for my prize!

I am looking forward to my Evansville Usborne Books & More Open House!
It will be tomorrow from 3-6 PM at my parents' home in Evansville.
I hope to see you there!

Happy Savings to All! 

Friday, October 26, 2018

Frugal Friday 268

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Mark worked at his part time job and I worked my Usborne Book Business.

- Last Friday, Mark and Owen took a "Man Day" out. They ran errands and then Mark took Owen out for his first Barber Shop haircut. Owen LOVED it!! Annabeth and I stayed home and did a Girls' Day In - she asked to eat Chinese noodles, paint nails, and watch a movie. We had a wonderful day together.

- Friday afternoon we all drove up and met up with other Usborne Book ladies from around Indiana to drop off our cuddle bears and books at Riley Children's Hospital. Our team raised $4500 for bears and books for children at Riley and IU Health. I am so thankful that God has given me a business that I can use to bless others.

- Saturday Mark spent the day helping Luke and Cassidy with a project at their house. He was excited to use some new tools and to spend the whole day with his brother. I am thankful to be married to a man who loves to help others!

- While Mark was up north, my sister came to visit. We spent the day hanging out in downtown Franklin. We enjoyed lunch at Benjamin's (thank you for paying Lu), play time at the library, snacks at the Hoosier Candy Cupboard, and then I scored an awesome deal on leggings ($5/pair!) at Anna's Style Boutique! Since having surgery, my incisions are in places that make wearing all of my pants uncomfortable so until my stitches come out it'll be leggings for weeks!

Read-Aloud time with Aunt Lu at our local library

Visiting their favorite skeleton downtown at the JCPL offices

- My sister brought me five shirts and I traded her a pair of brand new leggings. I love having a sister who loves clothes like me! It's like having two closets! :)

- Since Lu brought me clothes, I did a quick sweep through my closet and got rid of at least five items. I am working very hard to stick to the rule that for every item that comes in one must go. It's helping me get rid of items that are not my size in exchange for items that are.

- Monday morning I cleaned out my sticker storage. I have had a HUGE binder of stickers since before we were married and its plastic has been cracking. I emptied the whole thing and recycled all of the pages that had stickers I would not use on them. Last year a friend gave us some magazine holders so I am using one of them for sticker storage now. I recycled the old, broken plastic one as well.

- I made a quick stop at CVS and got a $3 off your next order coupon printer. Went back later in the week to buy one item for a craft project and got it for FREE with the coupon.

- Tuesday evening my best friend brought us dinner. She had offered last week after surgery but I just wasn't feeling up to food or company. I am so thankful for her generous heart and for the extra help on Tuesday. I have definitely had a slower recovery than I had planned or hoped for.

- Wednesday we enjoyed a free storytime with a celebrity at our local toy store. Owen especially loved hearing a police officer read the hilarious "Wonky Donky" book. Thank you to Toodleydoo Toys and Franklin Police Department for this fun event!

Police Officer O rocking his cool man pose and shades

- I recently had an offer in my e-mail for a free little series on farm-to-table production for kids. I downloaded it and then Nature Nate's Honey Co. reached out to me and asked me to be on Nature Nate's Honeybee Team. They sent me a HUGE box of full size honey, a t-shirt, sunglasses, stickers, and tons of honey samples to share with friends! Thank you Nature Nate's Honey Co!

We had a very busy week back in our regular routine. We are looking forward to a busy weekend ahead as well.

Happy Savings to All! 

Friday, October 19, 2018

Frugal Friday 267

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last Friday, a friend sorted out some books that had been donated to her homeschool and let us look through. I carefully chose just four - two for now, one handwriting practice book, and one for later. I am trying very hard not to save too much ahead but it's very tempting when the books are free!

- The kids enjoyed a special Starbucks date thanks to a birthday giftcard from Amazing Aunt Katie. Annabeth chose cake pops and also a bag of popcorn to share with Owen. Thank you AAK - they loved it!

- Marked worked at his part-time job and I ran a sale with my Usborne Book Business.

- We have been in the process of decluttering for years now, which might mean I need a better method, but I spent some time this past week cleaning out places I have skipped like under sinks, medicine cabinet, etc. It felt good to get rid of a lot of expired items and trash. Also, a reminder from our LEO family, please always dispose of expired or unused medications with your local law enforcement agencies for proper destruction.

- The weather turned cooler over the weekend. Saturday the kids and I enjoyed a Unicorn Birthday party for our sweet friend Harper and a fun afternoon of play at the library. Sunday after church we came home and the kids assembled their circus tent and played in it ALL day! I always know it's cold outside when they decide to play with the tent. It's always been our number one winter toy.

- Monday we ran up north and picked up Annabeth's new glasses. We are so thankful for vision insurance this year and how affordable it made her appointment and glasses. Thank you my dear friend Dr. Jenna Dale for being the best eye doctor ever! You are a blessing to us!

Second Grade Smile - New specs and missing front tooth

- I had surgery on Tuesday and am thankful to be feeling pretty good now. BIG THANKS to Mark, my dad, and Mark's mom who all came and helped this week. Mark did a big grocery trip Monday evening for easy food for everyone to prepare. This kept us from ordering in pizza or stopping for fast food. It saved us quite a bit of money from eat out food. Thank you to everyone for helping me!

Frugal Fail:
Owen loves to get into things and I failed to put my make-up away. He had a fun time destroying my eye-primer with a pair of tweezers while I was in the shower :( I am not a huge makeup person but what I do buy I buy nice brands and keep them nice for a long time. When I went to Clinique's website I was glad to see there was a nice "free" gift for buying a certain amount. I'll use those sample sizes when we travel.  And yes, I could live without it but I used Usborne money from this week to treat myself.

We are looking forward to a good weekend with family and a date day on Sunday.

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Frugal Friday 266

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last Friday, we celebrated Annabeth's 7th Birthday! In our house the birthday person chooses all of the meals of the day with the only rule being that only one meal can be an "eat out meal." Annabeth chose to have breakfast and dinner at home. Her eat-out meal was at her birthday party with friends. We met up with some of our favorite school friends at our local bowling alley for a unicorn-rainbow party. Our bowling alley is SUPER generous and allowed us to use a Fall Break coupon deal on our party. Instead of being the usual $139 party deal it was just $39.99 (shoe rental, lane, pizza, and drinks!) We also added the bowling pin for her friends to sign for $10. Thank you Hi-Way Lanes!!

- Friday we also gifted Annabeth her gifts from us. This year her "big gift" was a new bed and beautiful bedding set which we gave her a few weeks ago. I was able to give her some great Usborne books using my rewards and an adorable stuffed unicorn that I won from A GALIi on a Mission (thanks Susie!) Her wish-list was: JoJo Bows (a friend helped me get them through a co-op for just $3/each), Matilda Jane (I was able to get three pieces for $40 during sales this year - If you are a Matilda Jane fan I encourage you to shop with my Trunk Keeper Lauren Keeling ), and an American Girl doll. We don't think she is quite ready for a full size doll so we got her the Kirsten books (sourced used for $13 for all 6) and the Mini-Kirsten Doll. We love giving our kids the things they really want but also love saving as much money as possible so they can have the next fun thing as well!

- Saturday we met my family down at Apple Works for some pumpkin patch fun. It was 90 degrees and too hot and too sunny for most of us. My dad treated the kids to a quick train ride and then we headed back to Franklin for an afternoon dessert at the Hoosier Candy Cupboard. My parents also treated us all to dinner at Kumo for sushi where Owen and Annabeth ate more than the adults! Our friend at the sushi place surprised Annabeth with a birthday dessert. Our friend at the Greenwood sushi place was right, my kids are Asian!

- Sunday evening we had Mark's family over to celebrate Luke and Annabeth's birthdays. They each chose take-out food for dinner so Mark's parents brought Luke's and we supplied Annabeth's choice of Chicago's Pizza. Once she decided that, I hopped on Facebook and asked friends if anyone was selling the Chicago's giftcards as a fundraiser. We found a student who was and bought two from her. They are just $13 (less than the price of one pizza) so we didn't spend any extra per pizza but we were able to support her class trip.

- Our dryer broke, again, last week. It died about a year ago and Mark was able to work on it. It started this terrible squealing last again last week. Mark ordered a $32 kit and spent an evening fixing it. We saved the cost of a minimum $80 service call and/or the cost of buying a whole new dryer. I am SO thankful to be married to a man who can fix just about anything!

- I deep cleaned our linen closet since my Mama just brought us beautiful new towels! I exchanged a huge bag of new towels for a bag of ratty old towels. We plan donate them to our local animal shelter as they collect them for the animals there.

- Annabeth handmade all of her Thank yous. Some she painted and some she wrote on thank you cards that we had on hand. She also handmade glitter stickers for them. I am very serious about thank yous and insist that we all write them for all occasions. I hope that this means the kids will do the same even if I am not there to tell them to.

- Wednesday we had Annabeth's fourth, and final, birthday party with our best friends the Eblings. Rose and the boys came up for lunch, play, and one more birthday cake. Annabeth asked for roses, unicorns, and tie-dye and I made it happen!

Happy #7 Annabeth Sage!

- The absolute highlight of my week was a morning out with Mark, alone! My parents and sister took the kids to the park and Mark I went out to breakfast and then to coffee. We were able to have about 4 hours to ourselves to just sit and talk. We hadn't been on a date since March and it was much needed! Thank you all for keeping the kids for us!

We are all looking forward to a weekend of fun!
Happy Savings to All!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Her Favorite Number Seven

Today our Annabeth Sage is SEVEN!
Seven is, and has been for many years, her favorite number. She has been waiting since about her 5th birthday to be 7. She has decided this will be her best birthday and her best year!

I keep journals for the kids and in many instances these blog posts get printed and added as well. But this one, number seven, has been hard to write.

In so many ways, I have moved so far away from her actual birth-day. I have recovered as much as I think I ever will without letting go completely of the goodness and grace of God and His saving hand that morning. I still cry when she dances. I still sneak into her room to watch her sleep. I still stand in complete disbelief sometimes that she is mine, ours.

This year, Annabeth has asked alot of questions about her birth. What happened? Why did it happen? We even talked it over with our doctor together. She had some basic questions like "Why was I blue?" or "Why do we have pictures of Owen being born and not me?" and then some tough ones like "Did I go to heaven when my heart stopped?" and "Do you think I saw Jesus?"

We have been reading Psalms this year and a theme of Psalms is praising God everywhere, for everything, with all that we have. She said to me, "I want to use every heartbeat for Him." It was quietly spoken, on a sunny afternoon in our schoolroom. Just me and my girl and Jesus.

When I look at Annabeth I see JOY. I see such a passion for life and for people and for living.
When I see Annabeth I experience LOVE like no other. She is my firstborn, my first understanding of what it means to unconditionally love.
When I hold her, I am intensely aware of her seven year old body and how far we've come from that tiny 9 lb 1 oz baby. I remember waiting hours to meet her, holding her in the NICU, and trying to introduce myself while just sobbing. She was a tiny little baby, a mixture of my sister and Mark in appearance and I kept thinking, "Why does she look like Lu and Mark?! Why doesn't she look like me?" It was a foreshadowing as she is so much like my sister and so much like Mark!

I am so deeply gratefuly for each and every day with our Nanners,
our Monkey Monk,
our Miracle Girl.
Happy Favorite Number Seven!

Annabeth Sage, 7 months
How did we get to seven years so quickly?!

Frugal Friday 265

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last Friday, after a "P is for pancake" dinner, the kids spent the evening building a blanket fort. I love seeing my kids work together on a project and do the kinds of things that we enjoyed doing as kids.

- Saturday, we enjoyed an afternoon in India at a local library. The kids enjoyed making some crafts, sampling Indian biscuits (cookies, and only Owen), talking with some Indian friends, and then getting their first Henna tattoos.

Annabeth went first and chose a turtle so naturally
"Me too" chose a turtle as well! This picture was before we peeled the henna off. 
They have lasted all week and the kids have loved showing them to people! 

- Saturday evening we had Mark's parents and Luke over for a pizza and ice cream sundae dinner. The kids loved running outside and then playing games with everyone. I am so thankful for such a great family! I especially love watching Luke with the kids - he is such a good sport even doing ballet with Annabeth! After they left, we all stayed outside a bit and did some stargazing.

- Mark, as he does every week, worked shifts at his part time job. I worked my Usborne book business as well. If you are thinking of buying books, I'd love for you to shop with me this holiday season!

- Sunday I picked up my remaining items from the consignment sale. I donate all of my toys, books, etc that don't sell as our sale owners give them to groups that support foster care families. I do bring my clothes back home though so I can reuse the hangers and safety-pins for the next sale. I divided up the clothing left and gave it to friends who had children in those sizes. Overall I earned $160 from the sale. A bit down from the past but I have sold many large items on Facebook this year and we had a $80 garage sale earlier in the summer.

- We got this month's PinchMe box in the mail this week. We got a free bag of coffee, free peanut butter, and a hair conditioning mask. Mark took the coffee to work to sample and share with coworkers, he and Owen enjoyed the peanut butte as a snack, and I loved the hair mask! Hoping for an Anna-Safe item next month for her to enjoy. Thanks PinchMe!

- I combined a store sale, Kohl's cash, and a coupon to get Annabeth's winter boots for $35 off. I do like to buy used and save the difference but I do buy the kids new shoes (with the exception of snowboots which they sometimes hardly wear)

Today we are celebrating Annabeth's seventh birthday and are looking forward to a weekend of frugal birthday fun!

Happy Savings to All!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Easy, Peasy Lemon Squeezy - Bathroom Redo

I don't like change. At all. Like not even a little. We moved into our house five years ago and painted the whole thing the same color yellow (except for the kids' rooms), matched everything in a decor theme of maroon/hunter green/yellow, and put the same floors in the whole house and I called it done. of our children, I won't name names, decided to climb the toilet roll holder in our hallway bathroom to see if she could hang off the shower curtain pole. That, of course, didn't work and it ripped a hole in the wall. Over time, the hole grew as her brother punched through the wall to throw things down in the hole.

Since we moved in that bathroom has had a monkey theme. Annabeth was one when we moved in and my Mama and I chose the cutest monkey shower curtain, hooks, towels, and bathmat because Annabeth's nickname has always been Monkey Monk. Even as the towels have become very worn and the bathmat unraveled, I have left it the same.

Then, in the same week Mark offered to fix the hole and my Mama offered to get us new decor for Christmas. I panicked! Change! No, not change! Let's not change a thing! Then I remembered, Pinterest! I hopped on and tried to see what we could do (especially difficult because our kitchen and bathroom counters are dark, hunter green) Within minutes I had found a cute lemon theme! Perfect! It matched my green counter and it is yellow so it matches my only real color interest!

I shopped a Hobby Lobby sale and Target sale for a new pretty curtain and some lemon items (all for $33) Mark changed out the outlets to bright white, painted our ceiling and vents a fresh white, and painted the walls a fresh coat of, you guessed it, our same beautiful yellow!

I am so thankful for his weekend of hard work to make our bathroom look basically exactly the same as it did before just with different curtains and wall decor! I love that he understands me so well and that we have a fresh, "new" room in our house.

Lemongrass wreath (Hobby Lobby clearance)
with lemons added by me 

If you have been over before, you might not even
notice the changes but I sure do love my yellow! 

Lemon print from Hobby Lobby 

Extra lemons from my wreath project displayed
in a vase I had on hand. 

Friday, September 28, 2018

Frugal Friday 264

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last Friday we met with school friends out on their farm. The kids enjoyed seeing their newest (temporary until butcher season) addition "Bacon" the pig. Owen LOVED feeding the pig and talking to him. "You are soooo cute!"

Owen is in love with pigs and is asking for his own colt and pig for Christmas 
- inspired by Almonzo Wilder in Farmer Boy. 

- Saturday we spent the afternoon at the library. The kids loved playing, we found a whole huge bag of new books for the week, and then we enjoyed a presentation about China. The kids and Mark worked on some oragami and we each had our names and zodiac animal written in Chinese. Owen enjoyed eating the almond cookies and we loved spending the afternoon with friends.

- We had some excitement Saturday evening after our neighbor accidentally ran into Mark's work van. (Let us take a moment to remind people that talking on the phone/texting while driving is distracted driving and the cause of countless accidents each year!) We are thankful that no one in their car was hurt. Owen enjoyed seeing Franklin Police and JCSO both respond. He was cheering, "There are real police officers and real police cars here!" Poor Mark! Owen only realizes what he does when he has his Class A Uniform on.

- Saturday night Mark surprised Annabeth with a backyard campout. He got the tent set up and ready while I did the reading, hymns, and prayers like usual. Once we knew Owen was asleep, Mark surprised Annabeth with the campout. During dinner, the kids were being so silly and we were all laughing and I paused and said, "Mark we're going to miss this" to which he said, "These are the best days." Thankful for a husband who makes each day special as we raise our people.

- Sunday I dropped a box of items off with my sister-in-law. As her kids outgrow clothing it comes to us and then I return for her to sell. Thank you Jenn!

- Sunday I also took a box to donate and then dropped four totes and two large items off at the Here We Grow Again Indy South Sale. I am hoping to make at least $200 at this sale. I'll let you know how it went next week.

- The kids and I baked four pies for our church fish fry. I think it is so important for the kids to find ways to help and bless others as much as possible.

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Frugal Friday 263

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- The kids and I enjoyed fun, free programs at our local libraries. Owen went to his first Hop and Bop dance class that he actually stayed in and on Saturday we enjoyed a class about Japan. We love our libraries and all of their free programming!

After much practice, we were allowed to write on rice paper.
Annabeth chose "wisdom" 
 We all had a great time learning about Japan!

- Mark worked Friday night and Saturday all day at the SSPOM Consignment Sale. He was paid in cash and we are thankful they have him back each year for this sale.

- After talking to another dance mom, I learned that an event I had planned to reserve a hotel room for is one that ends pretty early each afternoon which means we can commute! Hooray! I had already saved $210 for meals/hotel and was able to move that to a different envelope.

- I had a fairly expensive medical test rest run this week and due to our insanely large deductable and out-of-pocket premiums we had to pay half up front. The hospital called me ahead of time to warn me and the billing lady told me that we have one of the highest she has ever seen. So glad we are special :(

- I sold Annabeth's toddler bed on Facebook. I made more than I would have after my cut at the consignment sale so I was very happy to not have to take it to the fairgrounds next week. Made: $30

- Sunday we enjoyed lunch out thanks to Mark's parents. We celebrated his Dad's birthday at Jockamo Pizza. We also filled the back of our car with things to take to each of the other three households in the family. Our garage is less and less full and we love passing on what we no longer use!

- I scored a Groupon deal on a Starbucks giftcard. The giftcard was a $10 but I only paid $5. I also earned 6% cashback through Ebates.

- I ordered two Shutterfly photobooks during a FREE photobook deal. Saved: $60

- Wednesday morning we enjoyed a preschool story time at the Church of God in Franklin. We meet every third Wednesday during the school year. Please join us!

- Thursday I had drive-thru lunch for FREE thanks to a free combo meal coupon from Freddy's.

We had a busy week and are looking forward to a fun weekend!
Tomorrow the Trafalgar Library is hosting a class on China at 2 pm for anyone who is interested!
Happy Savings to All!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Frugal Friday 262

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- We spent last weekend in Evansville to celebrate my sister's 29th birthday. My dad and Mark entertained the kids - using our Mesker Park Zoo pass for some fun zoo fun. Mama, Lu, and I enjoyed a rainy day at the Chandelier Barn in Montgomery and a quiet night of movies, games, and pizza at the lakehouse.

Rainy day birthday shopping at the Chandelier Barn Market

- I am currently running my 2nd Annual Cuddle Bear and Book Drive for the Riley Cheer Guild at Riley Children's Hospital. I am happy to have raised $180 and look forward to meeting my goal of $300 over the weekend. You can donate Here: Cuddle Bears for Riley Cheer Guild

- We cancelled our cable over the summer and I have to say we miss it far less than we thought we would. We have already seen quite a few times where the extra $90+ dollars a month in savings has been much needed.

- The weather has finally cooled off and we have spent hours outside this week. It's nice that fall is on its way!

- Wednesday night we got home and noticed our neighbors house was dark but the doors were open and the car was gone. I called and texted with no answer so I went in our house and sweet Mark got out of bed, he was working midnight shift so sleeping before, and went over to check on them. One of the things I love most about Mark is that he is truly the epitome of a servant's heart. I am so thankful for his leadership in service and giving.

- Yesterday morning I babysat one of Owen's friends. The kids loved having an extra buddy for the morning and his mom paid me in a Snickers Bar! Best payment ever!

- My Momaw gave Annabeth a blue bicycle flowerpot. It is really cute but the wrong color for our porch. We painted it white and added some pretty yellow mums yesterday while she and I set up our fall porch decor.

- Last night we divided up the kids and each had dates with them. Mark and Owen went to Tractor Supply to look at chicks and Annabeth and I played Spot Five. Then we switched and Mark took Annabeth to get bodywash, the one thing I forgot while grocery shopping this week, and I kept Owen home for Despicable Me 3 and snuggles. (This is the only movie he wants to watch and only likes the first 8 minutes and just loops them over and over)

We are looking ahead to a busy weekend of the final push to get ready for the consignment sale, Mark working a different consignment sale, and a special birthday on Sunday!

Happy Savings to All!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

9/11 - Never Forget

I was a high school freshman. I walked into German class, a class where all we did was watch movies. I sat down next to my friend Treva and the TV was on showing some kind of war scene. It took a few minutes to realize it was the news, not a war movie. It was that day's news - long, continuous footage of what was happening. That teacher wasn't a teacher who was the kind to explain anything so we just kind of watched it. Then, an announcement came over the intercom that we were to turn off the news and to "resume our schedules." I remember walking through the rest of that day not really understanding what I had seen, hearing snippets of things from kids around me, and then going home just unsure about what had happened. I had no idea what to say.

Spring 2007
I went to New York City to play in the UofL Pep Band for the NIT Tournament at Madison Square Garden. We had one sightseeing day in the city and knew that if the guys lost that night we would be headed home the next day. We ran the city trying to see as much as possible. Somewhere in the middle a group of us ended up at Ground Zero. I remember just stopping and staring in silence. Everyone was. It was the one place in the city where sound seemed to stop. Even more than five years later, we all remembered and felt that day come right back. My friend Daniel took this picture of me. I remember tears just streaming down my face. I had no idea what to say.

At Ground Zero. 
Nineteen years old.

Last night, we drove past a local fire station and they were hanging a banner with the twin towers and a "09.11.01 Never Forget" banner. Annabeth said to me, "What does that mean?"
I told her about that day. I explained that people filled with hate ruined the lives of thousands, that they killed thousands of people. I explained how civilians, firefighters, and police officers ran towards the danger because they knew they had to try to save people. I told her about the days, and weeks, and months of work that it took to clean up the rubble, to mend the bodies, to heal the souls. And I cried. I cried thinking about their bravery and about the loss of so many. And then I told her to remember that love always wins.
Love always wins. Our country, our people came out stronger and better for having worked together. I told her that we have all pressed on by loving each other. Just like the last two times I really thought about 9/11 I didn't know what to say but I knew I had to say something - so I chose love

Friday, September 7, 2018

Frugal Friday 261

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I listed many items for sale on Facebook. I was able to sell enough to cover the cost of a new (to us) Matilda Jane holiday shirt. I had been searching the resale sites and found just the one I wanted. My rule for myself on fun things like that is that I have to sell some older items to get the new. Spent $40 - Sold $45 of ours - Came out $5 ahead.

- Our friend Alysha brought over a whole box of 5s and 6s hand-me-downs for Owen. Thank you Alysha and boys! We also bought laundry detergent from her son's baseball fundraiser.

- Mark worked a Touch-a-Truck event on Saturday. The kids and I volunteered and helped fill Meal Bags. If you, or an organization you work with such as scouting, are looking for a service project collecting food items for our Meal Bags would be a great one! Let me know if you'd like more information about donations - we collect gallon ziplock bags, individual Ramen noodles/oatmeal, snacks, and small desserts.

- Owen finished the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program at our local library. We started last October and finsihed on September 1st. He was very excited to collect his 1,000 Books Read sticker and new Pete the Cat book.

This dude read 1,000+ books in just 11 months!
We are reading Farmer Boy right now and Owen wants a pig for Christmas.
Happy Reading O!

- Saturday afternoon, we took the kids out to the Hoosier Candy Cupboard place for ice cream, candy, and were extra excited to be there right as a train came past. They both love it there and we love that we can all enjoy a local snack for around $10 for the whole family! We took a long afternoon drive afterwards which was really fun for Mark and me. We used to do a lot of that before kids and it was lovely to do.

- We drove up to Indy and dropped off the kids' crib and crib mattress to a sweet gal and her family. We have known her since she was in middle school and it still amazes me that she is all grown up with a husband, little girl, and baby on the way! Both of our kids used the same crib and I have been having a hard time of thinking of letting it go so giving it to people we love made it so much easier!

- We spent Labor Day afternoon outback playing in the baby pool and sprinkler. It was over 90 degrees and we just enjoyed a looonnggg hot summer afternoon.

Bright Sun - Check
Super Hot Day - Check
Popsicle - Check
Labor Day Complete!

- Yesterday we met my best friend and 2/3 of her boys at the Commons Playground in Columbus. I took some books to share and she brought clothes for me and a friend. We all packed lunch and had a great few hours of FREE (and air-conditioned!) play.

Frugal Fail: We put off trimming our trees and ended up having one of them break. The project is too big for us right now so we called a tree company. We will have to pay them but got a good deal so that made us a bit happy. As I mentioned in a post earlier this week, I locked us out of our house which led to Mark breaking our lock which means we also had to buy a new lock for our door this week. Thankful for an extra book sale this week to cover some of those costs. 

We are looking forward to a great weekend celebrating my sister's birthday!
Happy Savings to All! 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Owen's "Best Day Ever!"

Today was one of "those" days.
Owen didn't sleep much last night.
I had piles of work that were unfinished.
School took way longer than I planned.
I accidentally sent a text about whiny/sleepy Owen to Poison Control instead of Mark - oops! But it turns out they text right back to help!

And then during Owen's school time we heard a huge "noice" (Noise/Voice mixed together in Owen's language) Right away I knew it was one of our huge Bradford Pears. We trim them each fall but this year they are HUGE and we just discussed needing to get them done soon. We waited too long and the one out back, our awesome shade tree, cracked in half.

I did take a moment to be REALLY thankful. (This time last year our kitchen flooded and I wrote this post about Choosing Joy and I have really been trying to live like that) Our tree did break and fall but it fell only in our yard. It didn't go into any of the three yards near us so it missed fences, yard barns, and gardens. We may have a broken table under it but it's just our table. We are also beyond thankful that we weren't out back playing when it fell as one of us could have been seriously injured.

I called Mark and sent him some pictures. He said the whole tree would have to come down. Later in the afternoon, Mark came home a bit early from work to check it out. It quickly became apparent that we needed to hire someone to come take the tree down as the job was just too big for us right now. That meant paying money - what we've tried to avoid by trimming it ourselves all these years.

So....a tree man came and his estimate for two trees was less than we thought one would be which was awesome but in the process of going out to meet with the tree mean I locked us all out of the house.

I am married to a Sheriff's Deputy so when our house is locked it is locked down tight. No window or door can be easily popped. We tried the locksmith four houses down. He was gone. Called local locksmiths all were busy. Mark got a hold of a co-worker who came and helped Mark break into his van to get some tools. Those tools didn't work. Finally, more than two hours into it, Mark got the lock off the front door. I was happy that our house was so secure but also just completely embarrassed that I had locked us out of the house in the first place. Mark was, naturally, very unhappy that I had locked us out and that we had to buy a new lock again. Annabeth was hot, tired, and missed a whole dance class on her first night back of the season. And Owen, poor Owen, just wanted some water.

I threw together a little dinner for Annabeth and ran off to dance. Mark went to Lowe's and replaced the lock. Then, he and Owen and I sat down to a late, late dinner. It was then that Owen said:
"This was the BEST DAY ever! Our tree went crash and boom! We got to see ALL of our neighbors outside! A tree man came in his big truck to look at our tree! He will come back! With a saw! And a policeman came! A policeman came and broke into Daddy's van! I love this day!"

I. love. this. day.

I was a sweaty, stressed mess. I was so so so sorry that I had made Annabeth miss her class and that I had sent her without real sit-down dinner beforehand. I was sorry that our neighbors had to keep helping us. I was most sorry that I made a ton of work for Mark. But then, Owen, sweet Owen. It was all just a great, wonderful adventure for him. I hope I showed him a positive attitude in response to stress, I hope he noted Mark's creativity and diligence in dealing with a problem, and that he saw his sister's ability to react kindly when someone messed up her day.
I hope we ALL can find the joy in life like Owen does.

Owen, with his "broken tree" on his "best day ever"