Friday, October 25, 2019

Frugal Friday 315

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last Friday, we were late getting in from dog sitting and the kids were asking for pizza. We skipped the take out option and Mark spent $5 on freezer pizza at Meijer and the kids were very happy with that. I love how easy it is to make them happy!

- Saturday I worked our CUMC craft fair with my Usborne Books & More business. I had a good sales day and got to sell alongside my friends Ann and Kelley which was very fun. I love meeting new book lovers. I did spend a bit of money at the craft fair as I purchased a Christmas gift made by Ann and won a silent auction item that I also plan to gift this Christmas season.

- Saturday evening we went to the Havens Hope Stables Fall Festival. The kids have loved riding in the Saddle Club this fall and it was the first time that Mark was able to tour the ranch and to see them ride. We very much appreciated this free event.

Mark and Owen eating their cowboy supper on a rock
Watching the horse show
The Riley Four 
Mark coordinated all of this plaid while I worked. 
Owen was sad because we made him stop watching to take this picture

- Mark did our grocery shopping Saturday night and saved over $25 with coupons. We got all of our food for the week for $71.

- Sunday after church we came home and had a quick lunch together before we did a BIG house and yard clean up. We spent about four hours working together to clean house.

- After our Sunday clean-up, we hosted my Usborne Books &More Hallow-Book Party. We had a fun storytime, games, costume parade with prizes, and a craft. Our kids loved dressing up with their friends.

- After the party, we treated Mark's parents and his brother and family to a pizza dinner. We used a coupon for free breadsticks.

- Wednesday evening my friend Melissa treated me to a treat at Starbucks and two hours of great conversation. Thank you Melissa!

- I wrapped up the fall fundraiser for our dance studio with my Usborne Books & More business. This fundraiser helped dance families earn hundreds of dollars towards competition and class fees. Let me know if your school, group, or family could benefit from a quick, profitable fundraiser.

Thank you to everyone who checked in with me this week, sent a card, or called upon Leah's passing. In the midst of great sadness, I have felt the love of those who are still here.

We are looking forward to a busy weekend with a book party, the kids singing at church, and a birthday party.

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Frugal Friday 314

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- We took Thursday through Monday off school. We did go to Saddle Club, enjoyed a visit from my parents complete with sushi, an ice cream sundae movie night, and pizza and bowling. Saturday the kids and I went to the movies - Owen's first trip to a big movie theater! Sunday we went to church, children's music. and then spent the day outside. Monday Mark got back from a weekend camping trip with his Scout Troop and we went to an orchard and spent more time outside.

- Sunday through today, the kids and I have been staying in Indianapolis at Mark's parents' house watching over the house and the dog while they were out of town. The kids LOVED it! Owen has been asking for a puppy so he loved caring for Osa all week. Mark's parents got each of us some of our favorite foods to enjoy for the week and we spent just $50 on groceries for the week.

Owen and "his" dog Osa

- We had gorgeous weather this week! I made a point to leave extra time to stop and play while out on errands. We found a new park, or at least a playground, each day.

- Tuesday evening Annabeth started 4H. I was SO excited for her as I loved 4H as a child and it's fun to share that with her now. She has selected her projects and is excited for the manuals to come in so she can begin working.

- I worked on my Usborne Books & More business about 10 hours this week. I am working on a huge, long time goal and excited to be inching closer an closer to that goal.

Thank you to everyone who has reached out following Wednesday's blog post. I am so very thankful to have had such a loving and kind friend in Leah.

Happy Savings to All!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Dear Leah

Dear Leah,

We ended each night of college with out-loud "Dear Leah" and "Dear Amy" letters of our days. It was how we shared our hearts, our hopes, our dreams, and our grievances about the other not taking the trash out.

I do not know what my college years would have been without you. I think back to that second night, me alone and scared in my room, content to watch TV and then that knock on my door that changed my life. You. Thank you for being the brave one, who didn't want to sit alone, who wanted to reach out and connect.

I am so thankful for our three years as roommates, for the year we each planned our weddings, for those crazy two weeks in which we both got married. I am so thankful for the love across the years and miles since then.

I won't forget the day in May when I learned my first born would be a girl. After a call to my family, you were my first phone call. Her "beth" in part for your Elisabeth. Thank you for celebrating with me and for sharing in the joy that day.

I am sorry for the "Dear Amy" that was followed with news of your second baby and your breast cancer diagnosis. For the past 14+ months it has been my joy, my honor to write you "Dear Leah" letters each week. I've had so much fun making, creating cards and artwork to share with you and I prayed, and cried, over those letters. Thank you for bearing with me when I wanted to be there, to say the right thing but didn't know how or what to say.

Even though I knew this was coming, I prayed for peace for you, for your body, your mind, and most of all your soul. Even though I know you left this life for THE life, THE party with our precious Lord, the world feels so different without you. It feels so sad to know that this Dear Leah is the first that won't be followed with a Dear Amy.  Thank you for your beautiful Christian witness in times of strength, success, trials, and sickness. You always pointed right back at Jesus with joy. I am thankful to have known you, to have loved you, and to have been loved so unconditionally by you.

So, Leah, I hope you're dancing our crazy dorm dance, singing and playing the horn to praise Jesus, and being held by the angels. I cannot even imagine how much brighter you're making heaven. While I am still here, I promise to remember to wear a necklace with the necklines you taught me to, I'll get my hair done regularly, I'll sing loud, and Leah, I will love hard, so hard the people in my life while I can.


Friday, October 11, 2019

Frugal Friday 313: 8th Birthday Edition

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Two weekends ago we celebrated Annabeth's birthday with her cousins and some school friends. We had the party at a paint your own pottery place. I made the cupcakes and Annabeth chose invites, cupcake  liners, and toppers all for around $10. The actual party place was more than if we had the party at home but fit within the budget that Mark and I had chosen.

- Annabeth requested a Garfield Cake. We got on Pinterest and searched for many ideas until we found one I thought we could reasonably do. I think it turned out well and had great fun getting my butter cream just the right colors and piping it all on.

Our birthday girl with her Mama-made Garfield Cake

- Starting with Annabeth's 2nd birthday, her first in our current house, it has been a tradition that the kids wake up to a decorated mantle on their birthday morning. This year I reused her birthday banner that we've been using since her 5th birthday, some Garfield books form the library, and these purple paper flowers leftover from a bridal shower. 

- Annabeth's #1 Birthday Request was an American Girl Doll. After looking through all of them, she chose Samantha. This is the doll I had as a girl. We made a list of ways that she had to earn such a big gift and were very proud of her for completing the tasks. Mark and I gave her some little gifts (all purchased on clearance) and then the Samantha doll, outfits from the books, and school desk that I had as a child.

Annabeth and Samantha headed out on a birthday date

- My parents knew we were giving Annabeth Samantha so my mama found a doll bed at a consignment store, made a mattress, and sourced some blankets, quilts, and pillows for the doll. She also found some sweet nightgowns for both Annabeth and her doll.

- Annabeth's second birthday request was a date with just Mark and me. She wanted to go to sushi and to the bookstore. We had sushi at Kumo at the Greenwood Park as they have an excellent lunch special. We treated her to new books at the bookstore purchased with my educator's discount and a giftcard from our Ibotta earnings so totally free. We also walked the mall a bit and she used a gift card for a Starbucks drink and a coupon for a headband at Justice. We spent just $40 total on this big date. 

- We only allow the children one meal out on their birthday. She chose to have cinnamon rolls for breakfast and a simple dinner of hot dogs, mac and cheese, baked beans, and Annabeth Munch for dinner. After dinner, we watched Annie. 

- Sunday afternoon we went to Mark's parents to celebrate Luke's birthday as well as Annabeth's. We generally do their birthdays together and they look forward to celebrating at the same time. The birthday people chose Jockamo's Pizza so we split the cost of that with the family. There were also leftovers for each family and for us the leftovers covered two meals.

- For her birthday dessert with the Rileys, Annabeth chose dirt pudding. 

 She looks pretty happy about dirt and worms :) 

We had such a wonderful time celebrating our 8 year old! We always want our kids to feel special, especially on their birthday, but don't want to spend a fortune on doing so. This year it was especially important to stick to a budget as Annabeth also got her new retainers and glasses - those make this a $2,000+ birthday week! 

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Last Minute Snuggles

Today was one of those days.
It was the first day back in a routine in nearly a week.
We had a hectic Thursday last week with a long orthodontist appointment for Annabeth, a fall off a horse for Owen. Friday we had an eye exam and then came home to play outside and bake a birthday cake. Saturday was Annabeth's birthday and then Sunday was birthday part two with Mark's family. Yesterday was birthday recovery, co-op, and difficult news from a friend.

I woke up today not excited.
Not excited to clean or teach or work or parent or... anything.
I wanted a day to myself, to recover from the busyness, to process that hard news.
BUT we homeschool. I'm home full time. The kids are home full time. So no time off here.

Lots of little things added up all day:
getting all of the clothes done, baskets empty, clothes put away only to find a whole outfit under someone's bed,
finding that the kids had played with something I needed for my Usborne Books & More business that I can no longer use. It will be $30 to replace,
Getting to the library only to find that the single item that we HAD to return today was still at home because despite being asked 15 times no one grabbed the library bag,
We got some library books, went to Travel Club, enjoyed a fast-food dinner and a fun movie and yet when it was time for bed all they said was "I wish Grandpa and Mimi were back" and "I wish Daddy was home"

I was irritated. Maybe even angry. I wanted to just throw my hands up and say, "Get in bed people!" while I planned to do better tomorrow.

Then I looked at their little faces, I felt my heart change.
I pulled them in for a last minute group snuggle.

I'm not a perfect parent, I'm not a model homeschool parent, I'm not a boss mom who manages it all beautifully BUT I am currently SO aware of the gift of time with my children.

Two weeks ago, a friend of ours lost his life on the way to work. I know his family, his children would love to snuggle him. This week, my hard news, is that a friend is entering what may be the end of her earthly struggles. I know her family is wishing for time, for her to hold them.

So I hugged my children for myself, for themselves but also for their Daddy who had a meeting, for their grandparents who live out of town and in honor of those who can't be with their families.

I love these two more than they will ever know

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Happy #8!

Today we celebrate 8 years with our Miracle Girl.

I wrote last year about how seven was the age she always wanted to be and she was right in wishing for this year - it was wonderful!

At seven Annabeth - mastered reading, bike riding, swimming, and more.
I remember meeting her in the NICU and just staring at her, sobbing, thanking the Lord for saving her but also wondering what huge plan God had for her. He chose to save her. He chose to restart her heart. He gave her this life. I stand in awe of Him always.

As for Annabeth there were SO many times this year that she just amazed me...

Annabeth Sage is sweet, curious, kind, and full of curiosity.
I love her passion for life, her refusal to take "no"for an answer, 
and to see challenges as opportunities to grow.  

One of my favorite moments of the year was this one. 
At the Applause Regional she earned a scholarship to a dance camp in Chicago.
She cried for HOURS. She was just completely overwhelmed with joy and excitement.
It was such a beautiful moment as her Mama to see her hard work pay off - so much so that 
we rearranged our whole summer and our year's budget to make that trip happen.  

While in New York, I found that Annabeth is my kind of traveler,
she also likes to wake up and hit the ground running each day. 
We had so much fun grabbing coffee and exploring Lewiston, NY together.  

Annabeth has been asking for about a year to audition for "America's Got Talent"
so when the opportunity to dance in Johnson County's Got Talent came up, we said "yes."
She danced her little heart out and won the WHOLE show. Her first Grand Champion at just seven years old. My favorite part? All she told anyone about it later was how awesome the ventriloquist
was and how much she loved that girl's act.
Even when it should be all about her, she never makes it that way. 

When Annabeth was four years old, she came out of Toy Gym with Miss Kari
and she said, "Mom. I need to do compete now." Miss Kari just shrugged and smiled and said
"When they love it, they love it." On the way home Annabeth told me her goal was to get 
her picture on the wall of national champions (at four years old this was her goal!!!)
This year, she made it happen. 
She went to Best of the Best for the first time with two dances and her acro group
won first place!  

Dancing in Chicago at Fuzion Dance Camp.
She was the youngest in the whole group, went in confidently, danced her heart out
each and ever day. I would be afraid at my age to do something so intimidating (walking into a group
of strangers, finding my place, and succeeding) But she did it and she did it so bravely.

As Grand Champion, and division winner, she was able to dance at the 
Indiana State Fair. She was, again, the youngest had a great dance and earned a 
Participation Ribbon.
You know what I love?
I love that she was SO proud of her ribbon, proud of her first time at the state fair,
proud to be the first one in the family to earn a State Fair ribbon. She didn't care one little
bit that she didn't place or win. She was just happy to be there.

That sums up Annabeth, happy to be here.

That also sums up how we feel about her. We  know what it's like to wait years for someone, to pray so hard your knees go numb, to wish and dream and plan, and to have it all change when a heartbeat stops. We also know God's incredible goodness and His grace. If anything good comes from any of us, know that it's all because of Him. 

Happy #8 My Miracle Girl. 

Friday, October 4, 2019

Frugal Friday 312

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last Friday, my dad and I took the kids to the Children's Museum of Indianapolis. My parents gave a us a year pass last Christmas and we have really enjoyed visiting it as much as we can. On Friday, we really explored the outdoors sports area and the Take Me to Greece exhibit. We also enjoyed touching a real T-Rex bone (it's the only place in the world that the public can do that!)

 The kids LOVE seeing this "cat statue" on our walk in each visit

Touching the T-Rex bone

- Friday night we took dinner to Mark's parents. We purchased two Chicago's pizzas for $.01 thanks to gift cards we had purchased from a fundraiser. The part for our oven still had not arrived so I baked Annabeth's birthday party cupcakes while there. The kids and Mark had a great time playing with Baby Jackson while I baked.

- Saturday we celebrated Annabeth's birthday with her school friends and cousins. She chose to paint pottery and we had a nice little party with them. This party was very affordable as far as out of the home parties go. We also treated Mark's mom and our nieces to an early dinner at the Mexican restaurant next door to the pottery place. The kids really enjoyed that.

Celebrating #8 at uPaint Pottery in Greenwood

Annabeth chose the gold foil wrappers,
pink and purple frosting, and these Happy Birthday toppers.

- Sunday we had a busy church day. The kids played handbells and sang at both services. We had a quick lunch and then set up for a special celebration. Mark is on the Parish Relations Committee and they put on a lovely event to celebrate our Pastor's 40th year in ministry. It was a surprise event and so many special people came from near and far to celebrate with Pastor Lee. We enjoyed hearing our District Superintendent speak as well as one of our favorite retired pastors.

- We had some time between lunch and Pastor Lee's celebration so we stopped by the church library. When we lived in Greenwood, we often borrowed books from the church library on days we volunteered. I have gotten out of the habit but I was excited to see two of the books from my Amazon list there. We can check out for three weeks and then renew if we need to just like at the public library. 

- Sunday night Mark and the kids helped me load the cars and I spent nearly two hours placing all of our items and our Express Taggers' items on the sales floor at the Here We Grow Again - Indy South sale. I look forward to selling LOTS of items this week!

- Tuesday it was over 90 degrees. After school, we chose to have some play time at the library. The kids enjoyed doing the scavenger hunt, playing with other homeschool friends, and we brought home with two huge bags of books for the week.

- We donated a box of clothes and toys to a local thrift store run by church volunteers. We also donated a pack of pull-ups to Michelle's Free Little Pantry.

- I met a sales goal with my Usborne Books & More business and accomplished a long time goal of making Month 1 towards Team Leader. I also met a sales challenge and earned $20 in FREE books! It was so much fun to get some great books for our home library as a thank you for my hard work in September.

- Yesterday, between an orthodontist appointment and Saddle Club, we had a picnic lunch in the woods at a park. I love to find ways to be out in green space each day with the kids. We've had fun exploring lots of extra parks while eating "out." Even if we only have twenty minutes, I find this to be a much more enjoyable (and affordable) way to have lunch than running through a drive-thru.

- Last night we had "Buffet Dinner" - aka Leftover Dinner. The kids thought it was so fun to go through the buffet line to pick their foods. We had cinnamon pancakes, bacon, BBQ pork, corn on the cob, and mini corn dogs. They each had to choose one meat plus some other fruits and veggies that I had cut up. It was a good way to use up what we had in the fridge in a way that didn't feel like, "Oh man, leftovers :( "

My biggest frugal success of the week was tough for me. For the first time, I did not shop the Here We Grow Again sale. I LOVE this sale! I have always found the best items (toys, clothes, and books) there but this year we did not have any true needs and I knew I would spend money if I went. So, we stayed home. I seriously feel like I missed out because I saw some amazing items when I dropped our things off but we have some huge financial goals for the next 13 months and every little sacrifice will add up.

We are looking forward to a wonderful weekend celebrating our Miracle Girl's 8th Birthday!

Happy Savings to All!