Friday, August 31, 2018

Frugal Friday 260

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Mark volunteered at the annual sheriff's ride. They had a wet, but good morning.

- Saturday night, Mark and Owen went to the Colts game. The tickets were a gift from his brother's family. They had a great evening out at the "baseball" game. Poor Owen - he needs Sports 101~

Go Colts!
Owen called it "baseball" and thinks Blue the mascot is Eyore but he sure had fun 
eating lots and lots of snacks!

- I stayed home from the game to pick Annabeth up from a dance workshop. She and I ate dinner out with a coupon, got free dessert at Meijer by redeeming some rewards, and then had a free movie night at home. I love one-on-one time with my girl!

- Annabeth did a two night cheer clinic at our local high school. This clinic is a great deal as she gets 4 hours of classes, a shirt and bow, and a chance to show off her new skills at the high school football game tonight all for just $30. We enjoy supporting FCHS year round and especially through this fundraiser. Go Grizzlie Cubs!

- Tuesday we cancelled plans for a field trip due to the heat and stayed home and had a play morning with friends. This saved us gas money as well a great deal of complaining in the heat I am sure. We will attempt to make the rescheduled date in September when hopefully the weather is far cooler.

- Tuesday and Wednesday we had at home water days. We got the kiddie pool out and splashed in the heat. As it was over 90 both days this was a welcome after-school treat.

- Wednesday my parents came up for the day and brought us the rest of our new schoolroom shelves. Thank you all so much!

- Thursday we headed down to our favorite lake to visit the Ottes. The kids had an awesome time feeding the fish and swimming. I was thankful for a chat with a good friend. Thankful for friends who show such great hospitality as it is such an encouragement for me to do the same in my own home.

We are looking ahead to a good Labor Day Weekend!
Thankful for all working people! Happy Labor Day!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

2018 School Room Makeover!

I am SO excited to show you our 2018 School Room Makeover!

We did our first makeover four years ago when we transformed our front room from our craft/sunroom to our official school room. You can see those changes here: Original Homeschool Room Makeover

Since that post, our room has changed again as we have added more bookshelves (just $20 Walmart special shelves) and a awesome, big bookshelf from Mark's parents for our school supplies.

Our school room has been set-up the same way since Annabeth was in Pre-K but when we did our big, summer cleanout both of our WalMart shelves collapsed. My parents came up the weekend after the shelves fell and between my parents they came up with an awesome design and plan for our school room. I had thought we would just buy some new shelves but thanks to a Pinterest dream board they made my wildest homeschool mama dreams happen!

I love this picture of my Dad and Owen hard at work together

Here are some pictures from our school room before we made our changes:

View into the school room. 
We had matching white bookshelves with my photo books on the left side and then Annabeth's books
on the right side. Once the shelves fell, we resorted to storing everything in totes for a bit.
The little table is where we do our formal school work and then the desk on the left is
my Usborne work space. This picture makes it look way more cluttered than usual since
we had lots of things off the shelves but it gives you a general idea of our set-up. 

Our School Shelves.
The very top is playdoh, games with lots of pieces I don't want lost, and school records.
The top shelf is Owen's School Books on the left and then Usborne books on the right.
The middle shelf is Annabeth's School Books and her "big girl" craft supplies that Owen doesn't use.
The bottom shelf is activity and coloring books and utencils for all to use
The unit has two drawers. 
The top drawer is craft supplies
The bottom drawer is filled with school books we will use in the future.
This unit will stay the same but people often ask me about how we are organized so I thought I'd just add the details of that into this post as well. 

And now for the big reveal!!!
My Side
Photo Albums, scrapbooks, and stationary.
The bottom shelf is cut funky to allow access to our power outlets.

The Kids' Side
They each have books other places as well
but this is most of our current book selection.
On the bottom they have puzzles and games.

Ahhh!!!! Our beautiful school room!
Eventually we'll have a reading bench or something 
in between the shelves but right now we are growing Fairy Gardens
and they need that space.

I am so thankful to my parents for helping me dream BIG on this project and a huge, huge thank you to Dad for building and painting our shelves! This book lady, homeschool Mama is happy! 

Friday, August 24, 2018

Frugal Friday 259

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Saturday, I headed up north to Under the Sun for their Banana Box Sale. I stuffed $130 worth of groceries into a box for $15. I did buy some pasta/canned goods because that is what we eat but friends I went with got more items like Lara Bars and each had boxes that retail would have been $200+!!

- Sunday, after church and Annabeth's handbells, we went to a fun birthday party at a park and splash pad. The kids had a great time and I had a great time catching up with some friends we haven't seen during the dance break.

- After the party, we went to Sunday lunch at Mark's parents. For once, ALL of us were there for a bit, and we enjoyed hearing about everyone's first week of school and the boys all played card games. Nana and I took the kids outside for a bit and they tortured us with the bodies of dead bugs. I know these are truly the best days!

- Mark worked two shifts at one of his part time jobs.

- I sold $20 worth of dress up/Halloween items on Facebook. I have started the big, big pre-consignment sale cleanout and always like to see what I can sell on Facebook before I lose profits at the sale. I also started hanging all of the kids clothes for the sale. I started with a new system last fall and it's making the sale-prep go faster and faster each time!

- We took a big bag and large toy to donate. Anything I know that won't sell, I try to donate as soon as we clean it out.

- Owen, for the first time every, tried storytime willingly at our local library. He did the play portion for a few minutes and made it through one song before he was finished. I am SO thankful for our local libraries and their amazing, patient staff.

- Owen graduated, finally!, from his crib to a toddler bed. He had not figured out how to climb out of his crib until this week and I was not in any hurry to move him! I have loved having him contained at nap and bedtime. That being said, he now has a big boy bed and runs the house with his sister at night. We may never sleep again!

 Owen and I built his bed on Tuesday afternoon.
He was SO excited until it was actually bedtime. 

- Last Christmas, Annabeth got two fairy gardens (thank you Steve, Karen, and Lu) but we just haven't done them yet. We got them out Thursday and put them together and planted the seeds. Hopefully they are happy in the sunshine of our schoolroom and will grow and bloom there.

Fairy Garden Play

- We bought three items that didn't fit and returned them promptly. I cannot believe how many people I know that buy things that don't fit and they never return them! That is like throwing money straight out the window.

We had a busy week and are heading into our busiest weekend/week of the month. 
We hope you all have a fun weekend ahead as well!
Happy Savings to All! 

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Banana Box Sale 2018!

Two friends and I went up north to Under the Sun and shopped the Banana Box Sale again this year. I have been twice in the past but this year was the best ever since box prices were reduced from $30 to just $15!!

Here is what I got:
30 Honey Peanut Butter Packets (Mark's favorte and $1.39/each at Meijer)
10 Individual Packs of Annie's Organic Snacks
2 Cliff Bars
2 Vitamin Waters
4 Boxes of Pasta
3 Boxes of Annie Organic Macaroni and Cheese
3 Individual Bags of Popcorn
3 Luna Bars
3 Nature Valley Granola Bars
3 Large Cans of Pineapple
4 Cans of Veggies
2 Carmel M&Ms
2 Starbucks Refresher Drinks
2 1.5 each bags of Jasmine Rice
1 Box (8 pouches) Organic Juice Splashers
1 Bottle Organic Cranberry Apple Juice
1 Bag Tortilla Soup Mix
1 Box of Atkins Bars
1 Can of Olives
1 6-pack of Ramen Noodles (to donate to Meal Bags)
1 2-Pack of Quinoa Snacks
1 Bag of Bite Size Snickers
1 Packet of Sauce
1 Bag of Chocolate Chex Mix
1 Box Enjoy Life Cookies
1 Bag Chocolate Covered Pretzels
1 Bag Yogurt Covered Pretzels
1 Bag of Baking Chocolates
Assorted Small Candies to fill the box to full all to donate to Meal Bags

My estimated total at the grocery would have been $130 and I got it ALL for $15!

It was well worth the drive and the fun of the hunt! :)

Even MORE exciting is that Under the Sun is now going to offer these box deals every day! They will have four boxes and you can choose your size, fill it, and then pay acoording to the size with the most expensive one being just $30! I cannot wait to shop again!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Frugal Friday 258

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I redeemed a FREE Starbucks drink that I eanred on my card but forgot I had. They e-mailed me to say it was expiring so I happily used it on our drive to Evansville last Saturday.

- Sunday, we visited Mesker Park Zoo with my family. I had decided to buy the year pass so we could get them in free AND save on zoos we plan to visit in the next year as they are an AZA recipricol zoo. Mama and Dad surprised us and paid for the pass. It was also 10% off as an August special. Thank you all! The zoo, especially Mesker Park, is one of my favorite places and I cannot wait to go all year!

- Sunday night, we drove out to Bluegrass Nature Preserve to observe the Meteor Shower. I saw maybe four or five and then Owen and I headed home for baths and bed around 10. The rest stayed out longer and enjoyed some brighter ones as it go later.

- Tuesday the kids enjoyed a mudhike and creek/waterfall play with my Dad at Wesselman Woods. They used a pass from the library to get in free - saved $15. They also spent a few hours playing at a local library and were excited to run into Uncle Jeff while there.

- Wednesday, Dad and I took the kids to the Children's Museum of Evansville. We have a year pass so we all got in for free. There were only three other families there and we had so much fun having it basically to ourselves!

- On our Evansville trip, we were completely spoiled by my family with lots of eat-out meals at each of our favorite places, snowcones at a place with a playground, and visits to Momaw's house. Momaw sent us home with cookies and a new, fancy flower pot for Annabeth who loves to plant flowers.

- Yesterday, a childhood friend stopped by my parents' house with her two children. We grew up together and it was so fun to have our four kids play together before we left town.

- Since the kids and I have been out of town for about two weeks, we haven't been to the grocery for two weeks. On the days we were home in between we just ate what we had on hand. While we were gone, Mark alternated between PB&J and some delivery pizza. This weekend I am headed up north for a Banana Box sale and then following that I'll make a big list and shop the regular grocery. I cannot wait to see, and share, what I find at the Banana Box Sale!

The kids and I were so thankful for a week at home with my family. I am so thankful for the blessing of homeschooling and for the flexibility it provides us to make visits when we need to.

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Frugal Friday 257

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- The kids and I took a $100 trip to Micghigan to visit friends and see some sights. That included gas, the breakfast and lunches we packed (we ate dinner each night with our hosts), one lunch out, one souvenier for each child, and Owen's Christmas ornament.

- Tuesday night, we enjoyed National Night Out and were happy to see lots of police, fire, and ems vehicles and workers. We were excited for the chance to say "Thank you" to all those who serve and protect our community.

 We had to begin and end with Daddy's station.
While being a LEO family comes with lots of seperations and challenges we
thank God for seeing to Mark's protection each and every day. 
Owen was so nervous about sitting in the firetruck but was so excited
that he had to try! I love that I captured his "nervous" smile.

- Mark worked at his part time job and over-time at his regular job. I worked 15 hours on my Usborne book business.

- A few weeks ago, a friend who bakes posted that she was looking to buy cookie cutters. I happened to have the shapes she needed so I loaned them to her. She brought them back with party goodie bags for the kids and cookies for me! Thank you Katelyn!

- Wednesday we drove down to the Louisville area to visit friends. The kids loved playing with some of their favorite friends and I enjoyed a day with my best friend. Thank you for lunch and yummy dessert!

- Wednesday evening, we played outside after dinner at the kids found a cicada emerging from its shell. They were amazed and so was I.

 I pray that I am teaching my children to slow down
and to enjoy the journey. 
Annabeth named her "Wings to the Sky"

- I received my quarterly eBates check and earned back $24.04 by shopping online through eBates. My checks aren't usually this much but I got an awesome rebate by booking a hotel through eBates!!

- Thursday morning we celebrated National Booklover's Day at our local bookshop Wild Geese Bookshop. The kids traded four of their well loved books for a brand-new "Who Was?" book. It has ALWAYS been a dream of mine to own or work in a bookstore and by selling Usborne books I have checked that item off my bucket list!

- Thursday evening we enjoyed a plant class and prairie walk put on by DNR and one of our libraries. We enjoyed learning about lots of plants and seeing some friends as well. We each got a packet of seeds at the end of the class.

We had a busy, busy week and are looking ahead to more travels in the weeks to come!

Happy Savings to All! 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Screen-Free, Road Trip with Just Mama!

Over the weekend, the kids and I headed about 6 hours north to visit our dear friends the Gomez Girls!
We met Cynthia and her girls when Annabeth and Julia were three and we loved having them here in town. I do not know what I would have done during my pregnancy with Owen without Cynthia she kept me going by entertaining Annabeth and bringing us food. They are military and left in April 2017 to their new post out west. We have missed them dearly and have not had a change to get out to see them. About six months ago, Cynthia said they would be visiting her parents in Michigan this summer and did we want to visit them there! Yes!!!!

The kids and I have two "little" road trips that we make about every six weeks (one two-hour trip and one three-hour trip) to visit family. Mark often doesn't come along due to work so I have a great system for each trip. The kids know just where we will stop and we even have a certain playlist from our in-car CD collection for each trip.

This past weekend, the kids and I headed out just the three of us since Mark wasn't able to get away from work. In our car we do not eat, drink anything but water, or having any kind of tv/dvd player/tablet/phones playing games, etc. Many friends have said, "Well, our family HAS to have those things as we take long road trips a few times a year." Well...we do too but we live without them.

Here is what our travel days looked like screen-free with just Mama:

Travel Day to Michigan:
We left home at 7:50 AM (10 min ahead of schedule!) We drove a full three hours before we had a stop. During that time we listened to two new CDs we borrowed from the library (Bible Songs and Silly Songs) We stopped at a rest stop just inside Michigan for a potty break, picture with the Michigan sign, and lunch packed from home (sandwiches and yogurt) I also gave the kids about 10 minutes just to run around under the shade trees. We traveled the rest of the way listening to Kaya an American Girl books one and two on CD. We borrowed this set from the library and the kids loved it! Annabeth also did two art project books while listening. Owen happily just looked out the window. We arrived at our destination with everyone happy and ready for a snack.

Since Annabeth finished both of her big art books on the drive up, I did stop while getting picnic food and grabbed her a fresh art book and a magnadoodle for Owen - $8 for both and worth every single penny as they both played with them for at least 4 hours of the trip home!

Travel Day Home:
This day did not go as planned at all. I had looked for Michigan things see on the drive up (it was Owen's first trip and Annabeth hadn't been since she was a baby) and I found a great looking lake and state park so my plan had been to picnic and play there before we drove home. We woke up to a rainstorm that lasted all morning. We left later than planned around 10:45 and it was still pouring when we got to the turn-off for the lake. I drove on and we stopped in Marshall, MI for lunch. I had seen many huge billboards for a Cops and Donuts place which I thought might have something fun to take home to Mark but we couldn't find it. So, we had $1 pizza slices and water at Marco's Italian. Then we walked down to a park with a neat, HUGE Marshall sign so I could make the kids picture. We bought each kid one souvenir - Owen loved a magnet and Annabeth loved some fun erasers ($5 for both) We also found Owen's ornament for Christmas (each year we get the kids an ornament from a big event or travel place) As we walked around downtown, I tried to hurry the kids a bit as a I could see a storm coming from the west. We ended up caught in a HUGE downpour and decided to make the best of it and to just dance in the rain. We were soaked and ended up changing clothes in the car at a gas station. We drove on south and listened to the third book in the Kaya series. We were then traveling during dinner time and stopped about 90 minutes from home to run and have a snack (we finished some fruit and crackers from our packed bag) at a rest stop. This helped them get wiggles out and meant that we avoided rush hour traffic getting into Indianapolis. We played at the rest stop about thirty minutes and then headed on home, entertained by Piggie and Gerald's "We are in a Play!" CD.

We had a wonderful visit with friends and I LOVE that my kids can happily enjoy car travel without having to watch movies or play video games. They loved looking for certain license plates or colors of cars. They enjoyed seeing the giant Nestle bunny and the trucks on the grass at Ft Wayne's autoplex. They loved seeing a dragon roller coaster on its truck. They loved singing together and talking about Kaya together. They shared books and toys. Most of all, we were together, just the three of us enjoying life and exploring together!

With my little explorers in Marshall, MI

Friday, August 3, 2018

Frugal Friday 256

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- My sister came to visit! We treated her to ice cream and a day out downtown. We enjoyed shopping local at Hoosier Cupboard Candy, Anna's Style Boutique, ToodleyDoo Toys, and Wild Geese Bookshop. As always, Aunt Lu treated the kids to one book each from the bookstore. She also treated us to $2 Twilight Swim at the city pool. About 40 minutes into our swim, the power went out and the pool had to close :( I was glad we had gone at the cheap time since she paid. We ended up having a movie night and showed the kids one of our favorite movies from Grandma Chico's house: Baby's Day Out. 

- Sunday we enjoyed a family day, which sadly has become a bit rare. We went to church together, had lunch at Mark's parents, and then Mark and I took the kids out for ice cream. They enjoyed eating it outside and walking around downtown a bit. We are really working to slow down our fall so that we can spend more time as just the four of us.

- I closed out an AMAZING Cards for a Cause fundraiser for our dance studio through my Usborne Books & More business. In just 14 days, I helped families earn $1000 for dance fees. If you, or your organization, are interested in earning lots of money, quickly please ask me about starting your own Cards for a Cause fundraiser today.

- As the dance season, begins families have begun selling dancewear. I was able to snag the next size of tap shoes for Annabeth for just $5 (they are $30 new!)

- Now that we are back to school, we spend the majority of of our time dedicated to school time. This helps to eliminate gas and outing costs.

- Today marks 12 years since Mark and I began our relationship. Over the summer, we went down to Lutheran Lake for a cookout and for the fireworks show. We were engaged during the fireworks show in 2007 and it was very special to take the kids back to "our" bridge on fireworks night.

 12 years ago today, at about 1 am, I said to Mark, "I think I am in love with you"
to which he romantically replied, "Well, Louisville and Franklin aren't that far apart"
Little did I know that would begin a lifetime of love. 
So happy to have shown our children where the four of us began
I scored $.50 glow-stick-wands after the 4th of July and we took
them to the fireworks show that night.

We are looking for a weekend with dear friends who we have missed for too long!

Happy Savings to All!