Friday, May 25, 2018

Frugal Friday 246

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last Saturday, Annabeth had a dance competition in Indy. We packed our water and dinner so we would not have to buy expensive concessions. Annabeth did choose to spend some of her own spending money on a popular item - a squishy toy.

- Sunday, Mark's parents treated us to lunch at Johnny Carino's. The kids especially love eating there and it was such a treat to have fancy, eat out food. Thank you to them!

- Sometimes when we visit our local libraries, I check out their free books to take home. This week I found a great looking pioneer book. The kids and I are currently reading the Kirsten series from American Girl and that will fit in nicely as we discuss all things pioneer!

- Sunday afternoon, Annabeth and I ran to the library to pick up some books we had on hold. We also stopped by the Franklin Story Walk's Free Little Library. She traded a board book about tap dancing for a chapter book about the Bernstein Bears Bear Scouts.

- Annabeth chose her birthday gift to give Owen next week. We used a $6 coupon and she is very excited to give him a PJ Masks "Cat Boy" toy.

- Our church is gearing up for our church garage sale. The ladies mission group puts this event together using all donations from the church and all of the money raised goes right back into local service projects that our church runs weekly/monthly. I challenged the kids and me to each pick out at least 10 nice items to donate. Owen went through his toys and chose about 20 toys. Annabeth went well above and beyond choosing some books and then made lots of goodie bags filled with smaller toys like Shopkins. I went through and found books, photo frames, jewelry, and some household decor to donate. My favorite thing about the church sale is that shoppers just give what they can. Those who live within walking distance of our church do not have much to give and as we work we love to encourage them to fill bags with much needed kitchen supplies, clothes, shoes, and books for their children for whatever they can spare.

- Wednesday was our 9th Wedding Anniversary. I took Annabeth to dance class, Owen and Mark had "Man Night" When Annabeth and I got home, Mark and I went over to our neighbors with her and talked to them for a bit. Ed and Gloria have been married for 61 years and it was fun to get some advice from them! After the kids went to bed, we had Penn Station for dinner and a long, sweet talk about where we have come from and where we are going.

Celebrating #9 with my Always and Forever

- Mark and Annabeth have a small fishtank. I mentioned our new fish last week, and have added two more "Orange Juice" and "Angel." Mark also scored a great deal on a larger tank and stand by buying used from a co-worker. He paid $60 on a set that is worth $300+

- Yesterday the kids and I drove down to the Louisville area to meet up with my best friend and her boys. She set up a whole fun water play area in their backyard and the kids had such a great time! They also have a sno-cone machine so the kids were in heaven! Thank you Rose for the wonderful day away!

We had a wonderful week and are looking ahead to a great Memorial Day Weekend.

Happy Savings to All!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

My Favorite Love Story

I have always been sucker for a sweet romantic movie (You've Got Mail and While You Were Sleeping are my favorites) I always wanted my first kiss to be on a Ferris Wheel, in the rain. I always wanted the love of my life to meet me at an airport as I got off a plane. I always wanted to be chased like those girls in movies.

Then, at 19, I began to see my favorite love story unfold - ours.

Mark and I met on the third Saturday in May. We couldn't stand each other. He thought I was a snob and self centered. I thought he was too rough, too tattooed. We were both immediately uninterested in the other and that was that. Or so I thought.
I started "lake walks" with different staff members and sometimes Mark would join as I often walked with his brother and a good friend of ours. One night, no one met up but Mark and me. So we went. And during a stop on a bridge, I heard that Still Small Voice say "This is the man you will marry." I remember thinking,"What?! I don't even like him! I don't even know him!" We finished the walk and for weeks I prayed over this during my quiet time and I found it becoming more and more firm from the Lord. So, I began watching Mark. I loved the way he interacted with children, the way he conducted himself after a long day of work, and the way he respected our bosses. I loved the simple nature of his interests, that even on a rainy day he would find work to do, and that we seemed consistent and fair in his relationships. By the fourth of July, I found myself praying on Lake Hill "Dear Lord, please let me be his wife."
On August 3, we officially became a couple. We prayed together over what our long distance relationship would look like and we both moved to college.

Our first fall, I returned to school in Louisville and he started college in Franklin. His grandma passed away, I began having anxiety attacks for the first time, and I was deeply grieving the loss of my dear, dear friend Brandon Sage. I felt very early on that he was now "home" to me and living apart was so very hard.
By the next March, my Granddaddy had passed away, Mark had left school, and we were both complete messes. We didn't fix each other though - not even a little. We gave each other space to grow and to learn and to mess up all on our own. We let each other just be. We each made some big mistakes and we each picked up the pieces by ourselves. Little did we realize how important that would be over the course of our relationship. We learned to be together without having to always-be-together.
That June, we got engaged. Mark knew to ask me in the perfect place on the perfect day of the year and it was just every thing I wanted! It was so wonderful to know that the rest of my life was just beginning.
Nearly two years later, on another third Saturday in May, we married.

Photo Credit: Michelle Forche

We first lived in a nice sized apartment, with a lovely rent price, in a terrible neighborhood. He worked nights, I worked days, and all we could do was wave as we passed each other on 31.
We then bought our sweet little dollhouse which become less and less romantic as we had to rewire it, rid the attic of a raccoon family, and build the back bathroom from the dirt up.
We waited and waited and waited for a baby.
We reached the point in infertility when you hate nothing more than being two instead of three. That point where the empty bedrooms in your house have to be closed off so their emptiness doesn't completely consume you.
And then we had our Miracle Girl. And although I've told her story so many times I know there is no one who really gets it but Mark. No one else who knows the joy of having her, the moment when we realized her heart had stopped, the pain of losing her, and the awe of her second chance like Mark and I do.
We made the move to Franklin and even though I was afraid, Mark said jump, so we jumped. And here we have truly made our home.
We added Owen to our family and Mark saw me through his delivery in such a steady and incredible way. If I had to pick a favorite way to see Mark, it would be the look on his face as we met our son.

In my life,
I have always been "too serious" and often be told to "just let loose"
I have always pushed people away before they ever got close.
I have always been afraid to feel, to commit, to lose.
And Mark was the first one, the only one, who never said those things to me. He never asked me to change. He saw who I was, from the moment we met, and he was right. I have a tendency to be selfish and to be snobby and instead of ever asking me to change - he fell in love with me.
And I was right, he is a little rough around the edges and it makes him fantastic at the job he does. God made him tough on purpose. I have rarely asked him to change - as I fell in love with him.
Despite not asking each other to change, we have done just that. Motherhood has softened me, made me more emotional, more open to change, and it's made me more and less selfish all at once. Mark's life's work has changed him. He has seen things that I cannot even imagine, he has processed scenes more horrific than any episode of a crime based tv show, he has met with victims and their families on a daily basis for six year now. His life is so different than when we met, completely different than the lives our family and friends lead, than we ever imagined. We have changed completely separately and yet still find a way to make our lives work together.

Our story is now twelve years in the making, our marriage is now nine years in progress, and it's by far the messiest, loveliest, best love story I know. Our first kiss, my first kiss ever, was not on a Ferris wheel in the rain (it turns out they shut down fair rides when it rains) but it was still completely perfect. He did in fact, once surprise me by waiting at the airport as I got off my flight. And while I always wanted to be the girl worth chasing, Mark made me realize it's better to just find the one that I have never wanted to walk away from.

So, to my Love, Happy #9 - may our favorite love story continue on from today...

To read all of my Anniversary love letters be sure to check out my anniversary tab 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Frugal Friday 245

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Mark spent last week at a Federal Training. He was paid Federal Per Diem plus his usual pay. He used the extra money to buy tools he will need on the job and for future trainings. We are thankful for that extra money for him to get some things he has wanted and needed for a while.

- Last week our Read-Aloud book was The Secret Garden. Friday night we watched the movie for Family Movie Night. I was really surprised with how long Owen sat each time to listen. He seemed to enjoy it more than I thought he would. We borrowed the book and movie from my Mama and sister.

- Saturday morning a fellow homeschooler posted a two homeschool family garage sale. They were on the far side of our neighborhood so we ran over and bought $5 of fun school things. I found a workbook for review work for Annabeth for the summer, two new chapter books, a little cat Valentine book that Owen fell in love with, and a stainglass project kit (new, never opened!) We also met some fellow homeschoolers which is always fun!

- Saturday Mark took Annabeth out to lunch at to the Artcraft to see a movie. They had a nice date day for around $20 while supporting local businesses. Owen and I read all of his library books, especially enjoying a book where you guess whose shadow is in each picture. Then we took a long walk and looked for shadows. It was very nice to have him all to myself :)

- Sunday I had a lovely Mother's Day. We went to church, the grocery, and Mark made/cleaned up a yummy pastsa lunch at home. In the afternoon, Annabeth and I had a little date at the library and Starbucks. They gifted me a beautiful heart ring with two diamond ribbons running through it - one for each of the kids. We had a cook-out at Mark's parents house that evening and enjoyed catching up with everyone.

Mother's Day 2018
Each year we've taken a picture with our tree out front on Mother's Day.
I'm a little happy/sad about how grown up they look this year

- We added two new fish to our family. Our blue beta named Rarity died a few weeks ago. We cycled the tank, replaced the rocks and plants,  and have now added two guppies to the family. Annabeth has a turqouise guppy named "Blue Bubblegum" and Owen has an orange guppy named "W"

- Tuesday evening we enjoyed family friends' dance recital at Life Point Church. The three girls are part of their worship dance program and we enjoyed seeing all of the children praise God through dance.

- We had  good week of getting projects done around the house that we simply don't have time for during the school year. Annabeth also did a great deal of work on her 4H projects. She has one of the two almost complete!

We are looking forward to a busy weekend of dance and time with family!

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Frugal Friday 244

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last weekend the kids and I went to Owensboro for a long weekend to celebrate my Momaw's 88th birthday and the 144th Kentucky Derby. As always, we had a wonderful visit with family. We made the trip extra special by staying in a hotel with my sister. Annabeth loved swimming in the hotel pool and Owen loved watching the boats and barges go by on the river. We spent Sunday night in Evansville with my parents and the kids loved having a bonfire with Grandpa and going to the library and having lunch out with Grandmama-Mimi.

Derby Day 2018 in our special hats!

- We gave hand-me-downs from the kids to three different families over the past few weeks. One family we gave boy things to and they brought us some things for Annabeth. My sister and I also traded some clothes - I came out way ahead as she had a whole bag for me and I had just one shirt for her. 

- We grocery shopped for the week for around $70 as Mark was out of town so it was just the kids and I eating at home. We eat far less meat than Mark and only drink water so we always eat for cheap when he is working out of town. We also have quite a bit left over for the weekend/beginning of next week. 

- Wednesday morning I took the kids to a special Curious George storytime. They listened to a story and had fun making monkey crafts.

 My little monkeys were SO happy until....
a person in a Curious George costume came in the room...
Then Owen cried and cried.
"I so scared MomMom. Why he so scary?"
Poor Owen was, to quote him, "terrified"

- Yesterday, the kids and I spent the day down at the University of Louisville with our friends the Eblings to celebrate 10 years since my college graduation! I showed the kids my church on 4th Street, my apartment on 2nd Street, and then most of campus. Annabeth really enjoyed seeing the library and all of the caterpillars on the trees. Owen enjoyed the caterpillars as well. After our campus visit, I drove them over to see the football stadium which is MUCH bigger than when I was there. We also went to see Churchill Downs which they loved since we just watched the Derby on TV last Saturday. I had planned ahead and saved for this trip as we ate out, each got a shirt at the bookstore, and had to pay to park ($5) and for the toll bridge ($8) It was well worth the cost as we had a great day! 

We have had a lllllooonnnggg week with Mark gone at training and are SO excited to see him tonight! We are truly a family that is better together! :) 

Happy Savings to All! 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

It's Been 10 Years Since my College Graduation!

10 years ago I graduated from the University of Louisville.
It is hard to believe it's been that long! I will forever be grateful for my three years at UofL and for the friendships and lessons gained and learned while there.
I actually finished my last class during the summer term so I didn't go to graduation. I was already working at Camp Lakeview for the summer and when I got back from my last final they surprised me with a cap and gown from the dress-up closet. The campers all sang the graduation song as I walked across the dining room for my Silly Song Songbook diploma. It was perfect! :)

I had always wanted to go to a small, Christian college and yet, at 17 when we pulled onto the Louisville campus, I knew it was "it." I had been praying over my college decision for many years and one day my Mama said, "UofL has music therapy. Let's go look" And so we did and it was just right for me. Looking back, I know that was completely a God thing because nothing about the big city, big campus, or student population was comfortable for me and yet it felt totally okay. I am thankful for the peace I had going into it since Music School ended up not being where I landed.

Me, at 20.
My favorite picture of just me from college.

I spent my first two years living in Threlkeld Hall and playing in the marching band and pep band. I am forever thankful for the places I went and the people I got to meet while playing with the bands. I was paid to enjoy volleyball, basketball, and football. I visited Omaha and Nashville for tournaments. I spent two New Years in Florida, one on the beach in Miami. I played in front of a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden. It was so incredible!

Marching Band - Cheering on the CARDS at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium
Louisville, KY - Fall 2005
Pep Band - Cheering on the CARDS at Madison Square Garden
New York City - Spring 2006

Daniel lived in the dorm across the parking lot so all it took
was a text to get him to meet me for sushi/Chinese at the "Crack House"
Winter 2007 

 Leah and me, ready to head out to some boring contemporary dance show
but we looked beautiful and had so much fun together!
Spring 2007

 My last finals study session in the dorms
"Cities in the U.S."  was actually a fantastic class,
I had just momentarily forgotten to love Chicago and skyscrapers.
Spring 2007

 My third year, I had the fun of moving off campus and living in an apartment in one of the old houses in historic Louisville. Leah and I binge watched "Gilmore Girls" before binge watching was even a thing. We also took tons of walks through Old Louisville and I am so thankful that I slowed down to enjoy my time in the city. I also earned a spot in the Honors National Seminar and spent a week in San Fransisco at the end of the year - a graduation gift to myself.

Daniel, me, and Mark in the living room of the best apartment ever!
Winter 2007

During my time at UofL, I was loved on by many and couldn't have survived without Leah, Daniel, Chris, and Brittany. Leah was the most incredible roommate seeing me through the very worst year of my life following the death of dear friend. She truly taught me about unconditional love. I was spoiled by having my best friend Rose just across the river for the last two years and our Thursday night dates kept me going! I was well taken care of by the members of 4th Ave United Methodist Church as they were my college-church-home.

Me and Leah the week of my 21st Birthday.
From the night she knocked on my dorm room door to ask me on a walk, through
two of the toughest years of our lives, and through my graduation she was part of nearly
every moment. The next summer we would be in each other's wedding
and remain friends for a lifetime. 
Dear Leah, I love you. Love, Mojo
Winter 2008

Rose and I met at Lakeview in high school and were so fortunate
to spend our college years at Lakeview in the summers and the Louisville area
during the school year. I am so thankful for 15 years of friendship with this gal!
Spring 2007

My three years at UofL were filled with so much love and so much fun! I loved late night walks around the track, "Gilmore Girls" marathons, walks through Old Louisville, 500 Papa Johns breadsticks on my meal card, some hard/tough lessons about "Christian" friendships, and a real development of the person that I would be as an adult.

Thank you UofL and the Class of 2008 for the memories!

Friday, May 4, 2018

Frugal Friday 243

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last Friday, the kids and I hiked a new hike location with friends. Annabeth ran most of it and loved turning creek stomping into swimming. Owen was less than impressed and I earned some extra-credit from My Fitness Pal for carrying him a decent portion of the hike.

- Friday night, Owen and I went out on a date. We found him some water sandals at one of our new discount stores in town (Ross Dress for Less) and enjoyed Ritter's Ice Cream. He loved eating gummie worms AND ice cream!

- Mark worked both his full time job and part-time job this week. Last weekend he worked nearly 48 straight hours for the sheriff's office.

- A friend messaged about the books we used for Annabeth's Kindergarten year. I was able to mail her the teacher's manual for one subject, saving her around $20. We love having just what others need and we love sharing what we have!

- I consigned with the Here We Grow Again - Indy South sale last week. I had to goal levels for earnings. I surpassed one but came up a bit short on the other. The first tier is enough to cover the rest of our Mommy and Me weekend at Lakeview so I am thankful the Lord provided.

- Saturday the kids and I enjoyed ISO's Teddy Bear Concert The Giant's Violin at the library. The kids loved "helping" tell the story and both enjoyed trying a violin after the show. Owen also loved playing a string bass.

- We visited three of our four public libraries to play this week. We also visited three different local parks for outdoor play.

- Sunday evening we enjoyed family time at Southeastway Park to celebrate our nieces' 8th birthday! It feels like just yesterday we were waiting for the call that they had arrived and now they are nearly finished with 2nd grade. We are so thankful to have these precious girls in our lives!

- Since Mark worked the weekend, he was off on Tuesday. He got to see the kids at gymnastics and then we all went down to The Apple Works. We about the only people there so we had a little snack lunch and then walked in the woods. Mark had a great time showing the kids different kinds of plants and trees. We also bought our flowers for the front porch from their beautiful greenhouse.

"My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let 
me watch him do it." - Clarence Kelland

 These two would go anywhere with Daddy!
They love being part of his adventures.

- I bought some new sunscreen for the kids and saved $6. I used a $3 off sunscreen coupon + $3 off order from Miejer.

- Wednesday morning we enjoyed a nosiy walk downtown as we watched all of the road construction. I also stopped in the courthouse to vote in the May Primary. Owen was very disappointed as he thought we were "boating" and asked our friend Officer Richards where the "boat" was.

- Owen turned in another 200 books read as part of the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program. He earned two stickers and a foam puzzle.

- I received a renewal notice for my People magazine that I receive for FREE thanks to The notice included a Forever stamp which I used to mail a letter this week. I will wait to get the magazine free from PinchMe again.

We had such a great LAST WEEK OF SCHOOL!!
We are looking forward to a fun weekend with my family and then the beginning of summer next week!

Happy Savings to All!