Friday, May 29, 2020

Frugal Friday 346

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last weekend we hosted my parents and sister for a Memorial Day Weekend/early birthday celebration for Owen. We took several fishing trips, long walks, played in the sprinkler, played board games, and enjoyed lots of free, at home fun. My parents generously supplied lasagna, salad, and picnic supplies for the weekend. We had friends over for bike riding and a picnic on Tuesday to help eat up the leftovers from the weekend.

- Mark and I celebrated our 11th Wedding Anniversary on Saturday. We did splurge and have dinner out. We chose a locally owned restaurant and were excited to eat out for the first time since February and for the first time alone since the Christmas holidays! Thank you for keeping the kids Mama, Dad, and Lu.

- My friend Jeanette brought us a dozen duck eggs (so we were able to spoil my family with German Pancakes on their visit!) and a big box of school materials for Owen. Many of the books and worksheets were doubles so we shared the extra sets with another Kindergarten friend. Thank you Jeanette!

- We have always had a flag pole in our front yard but in seven years have never put the string on it to hang a flag. A coworker of Mark's mentioned wanting to add a flag pole to his yard. Mark said if he would come take it down and have a vehicle to transport it that he could have ours for free. We were more than happy to share something that we weren't using.

- On Tuesday, Annabeth returned to the dance studio for her duet. This was her first lesson since March. We have saved $150 in private lesson fees during the Shelter in Place order.

- One of my Express Taggers messaged to say that she had cleaned out many more toys and a stroller so I went ahead and tagged those extra items for her. The one benefit of our annual spring sale being moved back was that we all had more time to clean items out.

- Now through May 31st you can join my Usborne Books & More team for just $30. This incredible business has given me so much confidence and financial freedom. Over the past three years, I have covered a new dishwasher, flooded kitchen, medical bills, and saved for a Disney World vacation just to name a few bills covered with my Book Lady paychecks. I have loved filling our homeschool bookshelves with beautiful, incredible books. Want to join me? I know I want you on my team!

We are looking forward to celebrating Mr. O's 5th Birthday this weekend!

Happy Savings to All!

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Number 11.

Mark and I met at summer camp, courted and were engaged long distance, and then married with him settling into night shift just 6 weeks in. We've never *really* lived a "normal" life or schedule. This summer marks not only our eleven year wedding anniversary but also our eleven year anniversary to Law Enforcement. Our lives have been busy and most often lived separately.

We have always joked that we would like to just run away to the woods and to live alone with our kids. That we'd like a season of life that was slow, easy where we could just exist as a family of four without schedules, office hours, phones ringing, etc. We have always said "someday we'll make it happen."

Then this spring the world shut down. We got our "someday" now. 

The past few months of Shelter in Place haven't been exactly like that... Mark has stilled worked his office hours plus call outs plus Coroner calls but the rest of our lives were cancelled. We ate dinner on our back patio, we took long walks, he was home in the evenings a few times! We have played so many games, got the kids new bikes, worked on a house project, added a pup to our family, and spent more time truly talking to and investing in each other. 

This past year has been so wonderful. Eleven years in and we've really settled into married life. We have slowed down and it's been lovely.

No matter how we do life, I am thankful to do it with this man. The one who encourages me both in word and action, who lives to serve others, and who continues to choose me daily.

Happy #11 my Love.

 Fall 2019 - Pumpkin Patch Day

FPD Christmas Party 2019

*Be sure to check out the Anniversary Tab for all of our anniversary posts

Friday, May 22, 2020

Frugal Friday 345

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- I did our grocery shopping and saved nearly $30 with coupons and earned $13 back with Ibotta! It's always nice to have an over $40 savings at the store! I am working on getting back into couponing hot and heavy again. I love saving money!

- I cashed out some Ibotta rewards to purchase party items for Owen's birthday. I was able to get hanging decor, cookie cutters, special candies, and his birthday shirt for FREE!

- I cashed out some My Library Rewards and used the $25 gift card to help pay for our upcoming Disney trip.

- Saturday morning Mark took Owen out fishing. Annabeth and I took Oscar on a long walk (well, I walked, Annabeth biked, and Oscar was carried most of the way) We also enjoyed a picnic lunch outside. After lunch, Mark mowed our yard and our elderly neighbors. The kids and I played some games and they rode their bikes.

- Sunday Mark and Annabeth spent the day out fishing. Owen and I spent the whole morning working a 350 piece puzzle only to find out that we only had 348 of the pieces. :( Once everyone was home, we enjoyed dinner together.

Annabeth with one of her eight fish of the day!

- Monday morning I did a deep clean of the Master Bedroom and moved furniture all around. I have to move everything to clean thoroughly so sometimes it's fun to set it all up different for a few weeks too. We also did a clean out of the car and somehow during a Stay At Home Order the kids still had a whole laundry basket full of clothes, toys, cups in the car! Whew. We brought everything inside and put it away and then I shopvacced the car.

- We got the official word that Annabeth's week at church camp is cancelled due to Indiana's ReOpen Plan. We reviewed lots of other weeks and it's just not going to work this summer. The only other week she could have gone would have been when they will most likely cancel again. We donated the deposit we already paid and also purchased some items from their Amazon wishlist to donate as well.

- We also received the news that dance Nationals has been moved to an online event. We were able to cancel our hotel and travel plans. This is our third hotel cancellation of the spring. We have saved $1400 in hotel fees plus the cost of gas, eat out meals, and attractions. We will leave this money in our vacation envelope for future trips.

- We paid our car insurance in full for the year. We saved $130 by doing this.

- I cleaned out our fridge and freezer. We have eaten down most items so it was a great time to take everything out, wash, and return. I only found one expired item and it was a nearly empty bottle of mustard. I am proud of us for having so little food waste!

We are looking forward to a long, glorious Memorial Day Weekend!

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, May 15, 2020

Frugal Friday 344

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Saturday morning, Mark enjoyed a morning of fishing with his dad and our nephew. It was very cold and windy so the others headed home around noon. Mark stayed out all afternoon. He very much enjoyed some quiet time out with the fish.

- Saturday the kids and I stayed home. We made homemade soup, bread, and a cake for Mother's Day.

- Sunday we had a quiet morning at home with church online and a long phone call with my Mama. We went to Mark's parents' house and saw everyone for the first time in two months. We had a nice lunch and the kids had a great time playing out in the yard.

All the people (and the pup) that make me a Mama

- We did a hand-me-down swap between all of the kids. Owen took some Mickey Mouse board books to his younger cousin (This was a huge blessing as one he has had since his first birthday and I am very attached to. It made it "okay" with me to pass on knowing J will love it.) The older cousins brought Annabeth two pairs of shoes in the next size and my nephew brought some great camo, jackets, and Lakeview wear for Owen. Luke and Cassidy brought some dog toys to welcome Oscar - he is especially loving one of them this week! We love passing everything around like this!

- When we got home from lunch, we surprised Owen with his very first bike! We had planned to get one for him last summer but he broke his foot and was in a cast for most of the summer. He is very proud to be riding on his own! We look forward to helping him build his confidence and strength on it this spring and summer.

- Monday morning we were finally able to get Annabeth to the orthodontist to get her lip bumper out. Due to Social Distancing Guidelines she went in alone for the appointment. I was able to read out in the car for about 20 minutes which was lovely!

- Monday evening we got out for a little drive. We picked up more books and movies at the library and then also drove through Annabeth's dance studio for a fun parade. She was SO excited to see all of her teachers, the seniors, and to get the pins she has earned this year. It was so nice to be back at a place we love so much.

- Tuesday I put several hours of work into my Usborne Books & More business. We are much busier than usual for this time of year and I am thankful that Usborne paid ALL of our grocery bills and allowed us to order pizza in April. I used my Team Leader over ride to get something fun for each child and then saved the rest.

- Wednesday morning we drove up north to surprise Annabeth's friend with a birthday gift and card. I surprised the kids on the way home with our first Starbucks stop since February! They each got a cake pop and since they messed up my order I got two drinks for the price of one! Saved over $5!

- Wednesday afternoon our friends Jeanette and Audrey came over so the kids could ride bikes. They had a lot of fun playing and "feeling normal" as Annabeth said when they left. I enjoyed a long chat with Jeanette and Oscar.

- Wednesday night after dinner Mark took Owen to a big, empty parking lot to ride his new bike. Annabeth played outside and then had dance class on Zoom. She is very much looking forward to the hope of being back in the studio in June!

- Yesterday we had storms that I wasn't expecting so we stayed home in the morning doing chores. Then we spent a few hours out in the yard and then we packed up to go get our library holds. We also took Oscar to his first park! He kept up on our walk for a little while but eventually we just had to carry him. We enjoyed a good couple of park hours before another storm rolled in.

Oscar's First Park Trip

We had a good week, with an appointment and seeing Mark's family for a bit life felt a bit more normal. That was good because this week also came with the sad confirmation that Annabeth's week at camp was cancelled. Unfortunately, we have quite a few other summer plans that are still "on" for now and we aren't able to add her to a different section. She has been looking forward to returning to camp since her time there last summer and it nearly broke my heart to tell her she has to wait until next summer now. Praying for all children feeling that same sense of loss for their summer fun.

Looking forward to a weekend of lots of outside play between the rain storms.

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, May 8, 2020

Frugal Friday 343

Happy Frugal Friday!

Here is how we saved money, made extra money, and spent money wisely:

- Last Friday was our last day of school. We usually treat the kids to dinner out. This was my family's last day of school tradition and I love letting the kids pick where ever they want to eat. Since restaurants are still closed we did a McDonald's picnic in our yard.

- Saturday morning the kids enjoyed Music Class with Miss Becky from church via phone chat. She is SO incredible. She calls ALL of the children in our church and plays/sings several songs with them each week. It has been such a blessing for our children to connect with our church family in this way. We still enjoy Children's Time and Sermons via YouTube but this way we can actually interact with them.

- Sunday morning Mark took advantage of a free fishing day and fished at Atterbury. I often view Mark's time at work as "time off" since he's not home (my workplace) and I also often make the mistake of forgetting that his job is taxing and stressful even on the best days. I am trying to be better about allowing him time on his own.

- That morning I cleaned out my closet. I was able to part with many items. Most went into a bag to trade with my sister and three were listed for sale online. They aren't her style and are boutique brands so I may be able to sell.

- Monday morning the kids and I deep cleaned and move furniture in three rooms - Annabeth's, Owen's, and for the first time since moving in the living room. Mark and I had moved a chair around one night and then I just kept moving things until I got it how I kind of like it. I LOVE our open floor plan and would never want to go back to the separate rooms like we had at our old house but it has made arranging furniture a challenge for me.

- Monday our libraries opened for curbside pick up!!! We returned our three huge bags of books that we've had for six weeks and got one new bag! Of all the places we wanted to open our library was #1! We were SO excited to see our friend Miss Kalen when we picked up books. We picked up another bag of books on Wednesday.

- Our friends the Evans family have loaned us a bike for Annabeth for the summer. They dropped it off over the weekend and Annabeth has already logged many hours riding. Thank you!

- We are debating using potty pads for some puppy potty training. My friend Cindy had a whole pack of extra ones and let us have them. Thank you Cindy!

- Tuesday morning I did a big School Room clean-out. Again. I think I just did this a few weeks ago but we use our school room HARD and it needs a good clean very often.

- We cleaned out the kitchen before the new stove came and parted ways with our tea kettle and spice rack. I never use either and just move them to dust them over and over. It was time for them to leave.

- When Annabeth cleaned out her room, she chose to part ways with many trophies and medals from dance and gymnastics. The next day, our studio posted a request for trophies to gift to the recreational students. Annabeth was very happy to be able to donate them locally. We usually ship to for donation and/or recycling.

Since we were without a stove or oven for a bit, thought I would share what we did for food with our crockpots and breadmakers. I did not cook breakfasts and we just did fruit, yogurt, cereal, and bar choices. Lunch was sandwich choices with fresh fruits/veggies and chips a few days as a treat or leftovers heated in the crockpot. Dinners I made: Hot Dogs and baked beans, chili, tortellini alfredo and Italian bread in the bread maker, beef strew with the remaining Italian bread, and Greek Chicken Orzo.

- My sister came to visit starting on Wednesday. We have not seen her since February and it was really lovely to have her here! Yesterday she took the kids out on an adventure and I was able to do my usual Thursday cleaning ALONE! Bonus was the kids had a great time as well!

Hiking by the river.
They found SO many neat shells, rocks, and even some antique treasures.

- Last night Annabeth's friend came over to ride bikes. They didn't actually play together to stay socially distant but they did ride bikes and talk. I had a great talk with my friend and my sister. Jeanette also brought us duck eggs - thank you!

We are looking forward to a good weekend and to celebrating our moms for Mother's Day!

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, May 1, 2020

Frugal Friday 342

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- We had purchased the dog food we thought the breeder had been feeding Oscar. It turned out that she had sent a different name than the sample bag they provided and Oscar refused to eat it. We gave it a few days to see if he was just adjusting to our home but when we fed him from their sample bag he ate the whole serving. Mark bought the preferred kind and we donated the rest of the other to the Humane Society. We didn't love spending the extra money but were happy to not put the other to waste.

- I ran a fundraiser for the Pink House Little Free Pantry. We were able to donate some great meal bags to this little free pantry to help them stock their shelves. We were happy to support our friend Heather and such a great cause. Supporters purchased Cards for a Cause boxes which arrived last night. We will deliver them this weekend and people will be able to write cards to their loved ones.

- Monday I messaged a friend about dropping off a present for her birthday. She ended up surprising me by stopping by to pick it up and bringing me a smoothie in the process! We had a great chat on the back porch and it took everything in me not to say, "Please stay for hours!" Thanks Jeanette!

- Monday night I went to cook dinner and while my fries were baking it seemed like my meat was taking a while to brown. It was. The stove-top had gone out sometime between lunch and dinner. When Mark got home, he quickly cooked up the meat on the grill and then went to work on the stove. Mark worked and worked and read and watched videos and it was apparently NONE of the common/easy fixes. He took it apart and looked at other things he thought it might be and nothing was becoming an obvious problem. We turned the oven on to test it and it had gone out as well leading us to think it was a computer type issue aka super expensive. Ultimately, we shopped a sale (10% off) and simply purchased a new one. We have had this one over ten years as it was new in our first house and we replaced all of the inner parts of the oven last fall. We'll remove those newer oven parts to keep in case our new one ever breaks.

I love to watch Mark help the kids learn 
via hands on experience

- The rest of the week was like Ultimate Quarantine Cooking Challenge. The first night, I did order Door Dash (for the first time and used a coupon and a free delivery deal) and the kids and I enjoyed Chicago's Pizza. Other than that, we made due with what we had on hand and enjoyed creative meals. Our new range will arrive at the end of next week at the earliest.

- Wednesday night we had grilled hot dogs and baked beans from the crock pot. After dinner Mark cooked up a pound of hamburger on the grill and I added it to crock pot chili last night. Today we will have left overs.

- Most of our week was spent helping Oscar feel more and more at home with us. I did lots of laundry and mopping as I tried to stay ahead of muddy paws on the floors. I forgot about the challenge of puppy training in the mud!

My three favorite little faces

We are looking forward to another nice, slow weekend. Mark will be working but the kids and I plan to work some new puzzles and to work on training Oscar to sit.

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, April 24, 2020

Frugal Friday 341

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Like many Americans, we received our COVID-19 stimulus check. We made the decision to prepay many things upcoming in the year. We were able to pay ahead everything that we had in the foreseeable future and we added the rest to our savings.

- The kids were surprised on Saturday by a HUGE package from my sister. She sent them an amazing science kit with binoculars, telescope, and microscope! They have had a ton of fun looking at things in a whole new way. Thank you Aunt Lu!

 Science Class with Dad
Examining blood through their microscope

- I did our grocery trip. I did spend an extra $5 in fun items to the cart - new markers and new bubbles. I really like for the kids to have great supplies on hand to imagine and create with. I did earn back $3.10 with Ibotta so I feel like I only really spend $1.90 on those items.

- I shopped for some items and instead of buying through a big box store or Amazon I purchased from Etsy and a local crafter. I purchased doggie bandanas from PawsomePetCreations1 on Etsy and a handmade sign from my friend Katelyn at No Strings Attached.

- We ordered our fresh produce through Imperfect  and are happy to help create less food waste in our world.

- The kids and I did a big school room record purge. I had kept every school book that the kids have completed and am just running out of room. After consulting HSDLA, I kept only the records they suggested.

- The kids continued to enjoy a few classes online. Annabeth has been taking her dance classes online through Facebook. Together the kids enjoyed a Dino Camp thanks to fellow Book Lady Audrey. Thank you Audrey!

- Wednesday night I let the kids eat Lunchables during Hour 5 outside as their dinner. Then I made burgers and baked veggies (Thanks Hello Fresh!) for Mark and myself. We had dinner on the back porch while the kids watched their show for the day. It was lovely to be "alone on a date."

- Yesterday we purchased our beef for the spring from our friends at Burgett Family Farm. We purchase half a pig in the fall and our ground beef in the spring. This is 90% of our meat for the year. We realize that we are incredibly fortunate to be able to save ahead for these meat purchases. I only cook with meat a few days a week. We have lots of meat-free meals to help save money and resources.

- In case you don't follow me on Facebook or Instagram, here is our most exciting news - we have a puppy! Please meet Oscar a three month old Ocherese! We had been looking for quite some time and talking with several rescues across the state waiting for a pup that neither Annabeth or I are allergic to. I kept hearing the same thing that they rarely come in and become available for adoption. Over the past few months there have been two, both older/sick and with descriptions like "I need peace and quiet" I knew we were the wrong family for them. Finally, Mark and I decided to contact THE Ocherese lady to put our name on her waitlist. As God would have it, she had puppies left from her winter litter as people have been sheltering in place and not getting puppies. Saturday we drove to Loveable Companions in Ferdinand and surprised the kids with a pup. They had NO idea that we were doing it and they are SO excited! Oscar is a phenomenal puppy! He came to us nearly kennel trained so he happily goes in when asked, sleeps most of the night, doesn't whine, and is very gentle. We really feel so blessed to call him ours!
Oscar Chase

Our first picture as a family of five

We had a busy week filled with finishing lots of school books and snuggling with Oscar.
We are looking forward to a weekend of more of the same.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Frugal Friday 340

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- We did a big family house clean-up on Saturday morning. I have been feeling completely overwhelmed and unmotivated to keep everything as picked up as it should be. Mark saw that and helped motivate all of us to work together to get everything put back in its right place.

- Mark's parents delivered a bag of goodies to us for Easter. We have not seen them in person for a month or so and it was great to wave from a distance. Thank you all!

- I shopped Matilda Jane's spring sale. I was able to get Annabeth two new items at great prices. Do you love Matilda Jane? You can shop with my friend Danielle here. (I am not having a party nor will I benefit from you shopping that link, just wanted to share a fellow Hoosier Mama's business)

- The kids finished up LOTS of stickers, scrapbook papers, and craft supplies. I love having a bunch on hand but also like them to be used pretty quickly.

- We were SO blessed to have our whole Easter Sunday as a family of four! Over the years, we have not had a great deal of holidays with Mark off work for them and it was really nice. He did take some phone calls but didn't have to leave.

Easter Sillies.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE family photos and my "trick" to getting good ones
 is letting them take whatever kind they want first and then I get my pretty one after.

- A few weeks ago, I let Annabeth design her own address labels. She has two penpals that she writes weekly as well as other mail she sends. They were due to us last Tuesday but never arrived and the shipping never updated. I waited a full week but when they didn't arrive I contacted the company. They sent a new set for free and refunded my original shipping. Made Back: $6.41

- Wednesday night I delivered several "You Are A Star" books for local heroes who are changing our community. It was nice to get out and to drive alone! I also loved a short socially distant visit with my friend Holly.

- Our friend Jeanette brought us duck eggs! Thank you! We baked many of them into German Pancakes for dinner last night.

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, April 10, 2020

Frugal Friday 339

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last Friday we were doing some cleaning and I realized that we had two big (600+ pieces each) puzzles that we were never going to do. We have a friend who has kids who love puzzles. We did a porch drop off to share the fun.

- We also let go of the kids' Tiny Tyke cars. I have put this off because I am SO attached. Both kids got theirs when they were 2 and we have loved them so much. I have cried each time I have tried to get rid of them before. But knowing that everyone is home right now and looking for fun and that our kids are too big for them meant it was time. We are passing Owen's down to my nephew and I sold Annabeth's. Made: $20

- Friday night we ate dinner outside for fun. The kids LOVE doing this and I love not having to sweep or change the tablecloth after dinner.

- After dinner, I took Owen out to porch drop some books to a friend. She lives in Greenwood and on the drive up we passed a church with a big, pretty pond. On the drive home, Owen and I stopped and walked all around the pond, found a gazebo, and walked on a little bridge. We didn't come into contact with any people or touch anything but a tree branch. We loved being out in the sunshine together.

- Friday night I had an almost two hour Zoom chat with two of my best friends. It was SO lovely to talk to these fellow homeschool mamas! There are SO many things about our current state of life that can only truly be related to by another homeschool mama and they just get me. I am SO thankful to have done school alongside them since our oldest girls were in Kindergarten and we're not going to let COVID-19 break us!

- Saturday we woke up and had breakfast/play outside time. Mark mowed and treated the yard while I did some Usborne Books & More work for the week. We also did a good deal of housework. I went through the fridge, freezer, and pantry and made a meal plan for the weekend to use up items that needed used first. We are working very, very hard to have zero food waste.

- Saturday we enjoyed Palm Sunday service through our church's You Tube page. We waved our homemade Palm Branches and sang. Mark worked Saturday night into Sunday morning, came home to nap, and then worked Sunday afernoon for the Coroner's Office. Sunday afternoon the kids were surprised by a porch delivery of Easter eggs and homemade cards from Matt, Jenn, and the kids. Thank you all for helping make our Sunday extra special!!

- Monday morning Annabeth wrote letters to her pen-pals. Owen wanted to join in the fun and chose four special people to get mail from him. Two were delivered to friends on our street. He is very sweet and I love watching him find little ways to bless others. Last week, the kids took handmade crafts to our neighbors for a porch delivery surprise.

- Our kids' sale has been moved from April to late June. I have already organized and pulled most of our items and they are currently stored in Owen's closet. That wouldn't be so bad for a few weeks but a few more months upset Owen. I listed most of the kids' clothes on Facebook and was able to sell all of Owen's. Made: $27

- Our church friend Miss Terri brought by fantastic bags for the kids! They were filled with activities, eggs with candy, and a COVID-19 Journal. The kids enjoyed hiding and hunting the Easter eggs for the rest of the week.

- I have had my eye on an item on Etsy for a while. It was 10% off this week so I went ahead and go it. I was happy to support a crafter during this time.

- I ordered some activities for the kids to do from a local place vs picking up at a box store. The price was about what I would have paid on Amazon or at a box store and so I was happy to support a local business.

- Wednesday night the tornado sirens went off. We got the kids out of bed and into the guest bath. We loaded them into the tub with blankets and pillows. Mark took down the huge mirror and got that out as well. Once the power went out, super rare for here, we gave each of the kids a glow stick. After about an hour, we were out of the worst of it so we went back to bed. The kids were afraid so the three of us ended up camping out in the living room.

 Glow Stick Fun

- I cancelled our hotel for Derby weekend. Obviously, with the Derby moved to September we didn't need our May reservation anymore. This will add $305 back into our spring budget! What a savings!

- I had so much wonderful support from my Usborne Books & More customers. It is an intimidating time to own my own business and I am SO thankful for the many, many customers who have continued to shop with me. I know lots of friends are going to have wonderful Easter Baskets filled with beautiful books.

- We spent a few afternoons serving our neighbors by helping them in their yards. The kids and I did some weeding and Mark mowed and sprayed for them. Mark has such a servant's heart and has truly improved mine over the years. I pray our children always seek ways to help others. Serving doesn't have to be big, loud, or expensive - it just needs to be done with a joyful heart.

Happy Savings to All!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Perfect Days

The last two days have been perfect.

We have spent nine hours outside over the past two days. We have played in the sunshine, under blue skies. We have enjoyed the breeze. We have moved bricks and rocks to find worms. We have laid on warm grass finding shapes in the clouds. We have rested in the shade with ice water when the sun got too hot. We have read book after book while enjoying watching for our ducks and bunnies.

I have enjoyed the kids bringing me beautiful flowers - dandelions. We have searched the yard for clovers - finding three, four, five, and even six leaf clovers. We have had dozens of egg hunts for empty Easter eggs after our church friend dropped off a care package. We have played Red Light, Green Light. We have played Mother May I and Owen May I and Annabeth May I. We have held hands. Oh friends, I have held their little, warm, muddy, sticky hands in mine and we have made memories.

I don't know what to do about what is happening in the world.
I don't know what the days, week, or months ahead are going to look like.
I don't know when we will return to "normal."

I do know that I am certainly living the very best days. Right now. Yesterday. Today.
Heavenly Father has given me the incredible blessing of time. Time with my sweet, little people. Uninterrupted time to close my eyes and to savor the sounds of their voices, the feel of sun on my face, the breeze in my hair.

For these perfect days I am eternally grateful.

What blessings did you enjoy today?

First ice cream cones of the spring.
Which were quickly followed by the second and third as the days went on

Friday, April 3, 2020

Happy Frugal Friday 338

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

(We stayed home all week and did not spend any money so I think I'll just share how we've been enjoying each day of Shelter-In-Place)

Friday: Last Friday was hard. It was the first day of this that I wasn't sure I could make it. I had the stomach bug last week so I was worn down, tired and then it rained aaallll day. We did finish out our school week and the kids enjoyed an online dance class from Annabeth's dance studio as well as a pilates class with our friend Miss Laurel. We did simple breakfast for dinner (eggs with cheese, homemade breakfast potatoes, and fresh fruit) The kids went out after dinner for some fresh air.

Saturday: Saturday was lovely! We slowly started our day with the back door and windows open as it was SO warm and nice! We went outside at 10 and stayed out until dinner. We took walks, waved to neighbors, colored with chalk, worked on garage projects, rode scooters, saw more friends and neighbors, and Mark and Annabeth got a great start on one of her 4H projects. The kids also received a special FaceTime phone call from their church music teacher Miss Becky and they were able to sing with her over the phone and learn some new songs. I really enjoyed our "Toddler Lunch" in the garage - cheese-its with choice of protein, apples, and strawberries. It was like one of the lovely, long slow summer days that we used to have before the kids got into so many activities. We had a great dinner - pork chops, sweet potato casserole, green beans, and rolls. The rain really rolled in after dinner so we watched the new Lady and the Tramp movie before bed.

Sunday: We woke up and enjoyed church online. It was difficult for the kids to listen/watch a sermon online but we hung in there. We were dressed and outside for the day by 10. Mark did the first mow and trim of the lawn for the year. The kids rode scooters, rode the ATV, made chalk pictures, waved at neighbors, etc. We were outside almost all day until dinner. We did take a bit of a break and drove to take the paper and cardboard recycling and also did porch, no-contact, delivery of some books to book customers. After dinner we went outside almost until bedtime. I enjoyed a nice, long phone call with my Momaw as well.

Monday:  Monday we woke up and did our usual school day. After lunch, the kids headed out back to play. I was able to work for about 45 minutes in the kitchen and living room. We swapped yards and went out front to ride scooters and the ATV. We took a walk. Then we came back and made a mega-Mexican dinner at home. Annabeth has specifically mentioned wanting to eat out at our favorite Mexican place several times so Mark got everything to surprise her at home. I made homemade Mexican rice (thank you to Cynthia for teaching me), Mark made homemade queso, and we also had chips and tacos. After dinner and clean up we went back outside until bedtime.

Tuesday:  This was a ROUGH day. We had a hard time getting school and chores down. It was cold and windy so our outdoor time was minimal. We did have the fun of video-chatting with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and my one year old nephew. The kids loved watching their cousin play. Mark did some volunteer work on Tuesday evening so the kids and I had freezer pizza and ice cream for movie night dinner. I did learn to make a Matcha Tea Smoothie for Mark as he occasionally stops at Starbucks for that but our stores are closing soon.

Wednesday: Woke up, vowed to have a better day than Tuesday, and made Mark his Matcha smoothie. Annabeth and I made our family Easter cards. We did our typical school day, read aloud one hour, and spent two hours outside. Then I surprised the kids with a Zoom with their homeschool group. They were SO excited to see their friends. I made quiche for dinner - I used to make it ALL the time at our old house so it was fun to make and talk about old times during dinner. We saved quite a bit of money this day as Mark had free lunch from Greek's Pizzara and the kids and I finished all the leftovers in the fridge. We also surprised the kids with an ice cream cake (shockingly Anna-Safe!) from the grocery made by Friendly's and Crayola where you decorate it with sprinkles and icing. We have never found a safe ice cream cake before and the kids LOVED it! They were so excited to decorate it and then they loved eating it. That was a real mood booster for our week.

Ice cream cake decorators

Thursday:  This was pretty much a repeat of Wednesday. Annabeth especially enjoyed a long Zoom chat with one of her best friends, Audrey. She also took two online dance classes. Mark had a porch delivery to make to a friend after dinner so he and Owen went out for a drive. Annabeth and I stayed home and had girls' night. Annabeth chose to paint nails.

We had a good week at home. I told my best friend this week that I feel like I am on a roller-coaster! Some moments I feel so cool, calm, and collected and other moments I feel like nothing is in my control. In this season, I am so thankful to be a servant of God. I am thankful to serve the One who created us all and Who does have this all under control.

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, March 27, 2020

Frugal Friday 337

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- We hosted my parents last weekend for my Mama's birthday. We hadn't gotten together in a month and a half so it was wonderful to have three days with them! We handmade cards and got my Mama a giftcard to enjoy an experience together in the future.

- We enjoyed LOTS of walks in the neighborhood and my parents even took the kids on a bit of a walk through a park. They did not encounter other people so were still socially distant.

- While we usually eat out with company - we ate our meals at home. Pork chops/baked veggies, pizza at home, homemade pretzels, and more. I know many are encouraging people to get delivery or take-out but I feel like perhaps that goes against the goal of social distancing as I worry what would happen if the person preparing the food is sick. That could infect a great deal of people.

- I have purposefully not added video or game subscriptions to our school day as I prefer book work, handwriting, and face-to-face interactions for our school BUT this week we did enjoy a few online classes with friends. We enjoyed Disney Sing-Alongs with a friend from college and Pilates for kids with Miss Laurel who was Annabeth's dance teacher from ages 1-2.

- I saw a fun post on Facebook with the address of James Dean (Pete the Cat author not the dead actor) and Owen took the time to write Pete a letter. He was so excited to put it in the mailbox!

Friends Forever
Owen + Pete

- We stayed home all week, obviously, and just really settled into a new routine. I realize we are so much more fortunate than most in that Mark is still working his usual hours and that I am already used to being home with the kids without breaks. Our daily life is not different but the evenings have been GLORIOUS! It has been years since we have been home in the evenings as dance runs year round. It's been really nice to take our time with school, to take more breaks than usual, and then to have long, slow evenings outside in the sunshine.

- Wednesday night Owen and I went for a walk, Mark worked on a garage project, and Annabeth LOVED having the house all to herself. While on our walk, Owen and I heard some saxophone music. We walked until we found it and were delighted to find a neighbor playing praise music from his garage. It was SO beautiful to hear someone sharing music filled with grace and hope.

- We did not spend any money this week. We did use resources (electric, water, food from home) but worked VERY diligently to use them only as needed. I am excited to track how much money we are able to save during this time without any temptations to shop, eat out, or pick up food/coffee.

We are looking forward to a weekend of being together. Mark is on call but hopefully will not make many runs. 

Friday, March 20, 2020

Frugal Friday 336

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last Friday we had our last eat out meal for a while. We opted to carry out of one of our favorite local places. While restaurants were still open here in Indiana, I knew changes were coming. We wanted to show some support of one of our favorite local places - Main and Madison Market Cafe.

- We signed up for the Kids Bowl Free program. We got the family pass so we will paid just $25 for our family to bowl from April - October. We did this last summer and enjoyed it so much! That covers 2 games/day/person in our family.

- Annabeth and I did go to church on Sunday morning. We washed hands upon entry to the building, practiced distancing, and enjoyed a beautiful morning of worship at our church home. We were treated to a message from the Wertz couple who have lived and served in Africa for 40 years! We enjoyed two of our favorite hymns (and beautiful reminders) "God Will Take Care of You" and "Here I am Lord." We also enjoyed the Sunday School hour with a special video and message from the Wertz Missionaries. We did not share in the communal meal and sat away from people. The boys stayed home as Mark had been under the weather late in the week.

- We saved about half a tank of gas as all of our usual activities were cancelled and local libraries closed. We generally use one tank of gas every 2-3 weeks and look forward to saving all of that in the weeks to come!

- I ran an Inventory Sale in my Usborne Books &More VIP Group and had two parties. Mark worked his regular hours plus some overtime.

- Annabeth's dance studio was closed this week. We saved the cost of her private lesson. She did still practice using a dance bingo card, practicing her routines at home, and also took an online ballet class.

- I babysat the sweetest little girls on the planet this week! They are 2 and 4 and literally dolls! We had so much fun with them, a fun change up to our usual school routine, and the kids just loved having extra people to play with. I was so thankful for the chance to help a friend out during a gap in childcare while bringing in a bit of income in our week as well.

Owen dressed in his cowboy boots, fancy belt, 
Spiderman shirt, and Cub Scout hat so he would 
"Look nice for my friends" 

- Wednesday night I traded a friend some yogurt and cheese sticks that our kids had been eating but stopped when we bought the large packages. They are set to expire in the next 10 days so I was able to take them to a family who will eat them. They gave us a huge bag of hand-me-downs for Owen. Thank you Alysha and family!

- I also stopped in to visit some friends to drop off some books to share with their four-year-old in this season of learning at home. I mentioned I was headed to the story to try to find some veggie pizza (or at least supplies to make veggie pizza) for a birthday this week and these AMAZING friends gave me their pizza sauce!! Thank you Love Family - you saved our pizza night!

- I try to shop local or with friends who work from home. Last week, I ordered new lipstick from my friend Cynthia Gomez and her LimeLife by Alcone business. We were sick last month and I always throw away my make-up  after being sick. The lipstick colors are gorgeous AND Cynthia was sweet enough to send me an awesome package of samples! I look forward to trying lots of new products! Thank you Cynthia!

We continued to enjoy learning and loving at home together this week. We also enjoyed finding ways to encourage others from a distance.

Happy Savings to All!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Notes From My Home

I have been a Stay-At-Home-Mama full time since 2011 and a Homeschool Mama full time since 2013. That is nearly nine years of total preparation for being home for days/weeks on end with my kids. If they gave out badges for homeschooling (they don't) I would have earned one by now.

My Mama always says, "The days are long but the years are short." I hang on to that on the long days and realize it's true as we're readying to finish PreK and 3rd Grade here.

The last few weeks have changed our lives less than others - my kids are used to Mama being teacher, being home for school, and Mark still will work his regular job through all of this. What's not normal for us is the inability to meet up with friends, visit the library, wander a museum, and to be home every single evening. We're also missing important events, missing our friends, and hoping for social connections to happen again soon.

I decided to share that over the years I've made and kept notes around the house to hold me steady. These notes remind me of important things to live by. Maybe they can encourage you as well.

This note hangs on my fridge. 
It's my daily prayer that I say when I wake up. 
"Dear Love, Please send me where you need me. Today and everyday. Amen."
The picture is of the Barnard-Jones Building at Kentucky Wesleyan College. My grandfather
was E.K. Barnard who the building is named for. He worked incredibly hard and over the 
years he and my Momaw gave, gave, gave of time, money, and energy to their community.
God called and they answered. I want to live like that!

"Are you carving the tiny bird today?"
This note has been hanging in my kitchen for about a year. My friend Andrea sent me a story
in an e-mail about a man carving the ceiling of a huge cathedral in Europe. In the story, he works
tirelessly to carve a tiny bird just perfectly. Someone asks him, "Why are you working so hard on that
little bird? No one else will ever see him up close or know that you did it."
He replied, "God will."
I hold this as a reminder that no matter how trivial or mundane the day's activities seem,
my actions, words, and responses are forming who my children are. Am I living for God?
Am I seeking to glorify him in small and large ways? 
Am I doing the next right thing even if no one else is watching?  

 "Everyone not with Christ is a mission field,
Everyone with Christ is a missionary"
I had a season in life, when Owen was very young and we were in the early days of homeschooling
that I felt like nothing I did mattered. I was lost in ABC's, finger paint, and housework. I wondered
how God was using me, if I would ever be valuable again. I had always dreamt of a few specific
mission fields to serve on and being in my home was never on that list. Over time, I realized
that God was working on my children through me. They didn't yet know Him and my service to Mark and the kids IS my purpose and work. This quote helps to remind me that everyone I encounter is an opportunity to share Jesus' love. 

This hangs on the door to my garage. I NEED it there. It reminds me to slow down, to
patiently tie shoes or put on coats, and that I am in example at ALL times. I cannot control
my kids or the weather or the clock BUT I can control myself. 
This reminds me to be loving at all times. 

Each of these are such an encouragement to me, even on the long days when I don't see another adult or really interact with anyone but the kids. I pray they are in some small way an encouragement to you as well. 

Friday, March 13, 2020

Frugal Friday 335

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last Saturday I went to Brown County and spent 7.5 hours with my best friend - kid free! We live about 100 miles apart and have five kids between us so even though we get together every six weeks or so with the kids it's not quite the same as when we were younger! It was so wonderful to have the day together to shop and talk over coffee. I planned ahead and budgeted cash for the day so even though I bought some birthday gifts and few items for myself I stayed under budget.

- Sunday after church, we came home for lunch and to do some chores. We got out of church around 10:30 and had a birthday party back in Indianapolis around three. Instead of eating lunch and shopping out we came home to save money. We enjoyed the afternoon celebrating our nephew's first birthday and they kindly sent the kids home with great goodie bags and a pound of blueberries!

- Monday evening I picked up my second consigner's items. I got all of her items entered into the system and ready to be tagged. I also entered all of our clothing items into the system. Items become more difficult to store after they are tagged so I plan to do one mega tagging session the week of the sale.

- Tuesday we found a new (to us) used book store in Greenwood. We found some deals but I didn't pay close enough attention to some of the pricing and paid $3.98 and $5.98 on two of the books! Ouch! I wouldn't have paid that much if I had been looking more closely. That being said we got five new books for around $14. They do buy books so we plan to take some totes of books to sell there in a few weeks. I'll update then if this is a good way for local people to sell books. (I do generally sell them at the Kids' Sale BUT they are time consuming to tag/set out and very heavy to carry into the sale. If I can sell to this store for a similar profit I will do that)

- We booked our big vacation for the year and saved $100 by using gift cards from our birthdays. Thank you Brian, Kristi, Matt, Jenn, and kids!

- Owen got his haircut by our dear friend Christy Stearns. I used to cut Owen's hair at home but as he has gotten older he has wanted fancy cuts and his hair grows in funky so it's nice to have a friend who can give him great cuts at a good price. Thank you Christy!

He loves to pose!

- I ordered our 2019 photos while they were 50% off and I had 101 free on Shutterfly. I used to be SO good about printing photos, putting them into books, and getting notes written about each picture but last year it got away from me. Thankfully I do make photo-books for each school year, vacation, and birthday so this was only about 200 pictures to fill in the rest of the past 15 months. I was able to save $20 on the price of them by combining those deals. I also earned 1% cashback through Rakuten.

- I currently have an Usborne Books & More Fundraiser Open. I am donating ALL of the free party books AND my commission to a local family. The Steve and Megan Love family are members of local law enforcement, have three children, and due to some very severe medical issues are facing mounting medical bills while trying to care for their family. We pray that this fundraiser would be a blessing to them. The link is still open if you would like to shop in support of the Love Family:

- Mark did our bi-weekly grocery trip last night. We generally shop on Friday or Saturday but were hearing many reports of our stores being out of items that we genuinely needed for the next two weeks. Mark went, shopped with an insane amount of people acting in a crazy fashion, and responsibly purchased only what our family needed.

I was looking forward to a fun vendor event this weekend but due to health concerns it has been cancelled so we now look forward to a fun weekend as a family.

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, March 6, 2020

Frugal Friday 334

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Saturday I grocery shopped alone! It was our first trip in two weeks and I shopped for the next two weeks. Check out total was just under $150 (a bit more than I wanted but we needed some shampoo and things as well as allergy medicine)

- Saturday evening we celebrated the early March birthdays in Mark's family. We had a nice dinner and dessert at Mark's parents' house. They sent us home with chili which we had for Monday night's dinner and for two lunches this week. Thank you all for wonderful gifts and time together.

- On Sunday, Annabeth had her second dance competition of the season. It was at our local high school so we barely used any gas. We packed our own lunch and snacks and did not buy any dance wear or concessions.

- We FINALLY had some warmer weather and sunshine! While we try to spend at least 30 minutes a day outside (even in rain, really cold, really hot) it's SO much nicer when the weather is great. We were out at least two hours most days this week.

Annabeth took Sasha out on one of our many walks this week.
Thank you Jesus for sunshine!

- Monday night, per Mark's birthday request, we camped out in the living room. The kids had so much fun getting all of their camping gear out and staying up late for movie night.

- Tuesday was Mark's birthday. We woke up and had donuts for breakfast, played games all morning, had a sushi lunch after surprising him with his dream of getting the BIG sushi boat, enjoyed an afternoon walk, and had homemade shrimp po boys and chocolate Oreo cake for dinner. Mark rounded out his birthday with a meeting with his cub scouts and boy scouts. We had a lot of fun giving him handmade cards, making special food, and surprising him with his boat. Happy #32 Mark! :)

Sushi Dream Come True for #32

- I used an Old Navy giftcard and Old Navy cash from my birthday to get six items for just the cost of tax. Thank you to my sister for the perfect giftcard! I love Old Navy!

- Wednesday morning the kids and I enjoyed some members of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra performing their piece "The Big Note." I think is the third time we have seen that group but the kids love it every time. This time instead of a cello they had a bassoon which Annabeth was especially intrigued by. Both kids enjoyed playing a violin after the program as well. 

I think Annabeth would have preferred to try the bassoon.
She talked about it the whole rest of the day.

Owen LOVES the violin!
He has been waiting for his 5th birthday when the teachers in town
will finally begin lessons. 

- We tried Hello Fresh! meals for the first time this week. A friend sent over three free meals with free shipping. We made our first one last night and it was FANTASTIC! It was so nice not to have to meal plan or shop and we still had a great meal that 100% tasted like we'd been to a restaurant. We can't wait to try the rest of our meals over the weekend. If you click my link you can save $20 on your next Hello Fresh order.

- Yesterday we had friends over and they shopped my consignment sale closet. Made: $10

- Mark went to help a friend with his clothes dryer. Mark was able to fix their problem. The friend, kindly, paid him for his time.

We are looking forward to a birthday party both tomorrow and on Sunday as well as a Girl's Day Out tomorrow for me! My best friend and I are meeting up, no kids, and I couldn't be more excited!

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, February 28, 2020

Frugal Friday 333

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last weekend we splurged and rented a hotel room for Annabeth's dance competition. The dance venue was about an hour from home and with a 7:15 dressed and ready report time we just felt it was better and easier to be close to the location vs driving the hour. My fail was the hotel's pool was closed and my second reason for wanting to book a hotel was for the kids to have the fun of swimming. Despite booking directly through the hotel website and calling ahead, I had no idea the pool was closed. The kids were very disappointed upon check-in and the hotel staff kindly gave each of them a snack from the overpriced snack bar.

- We packed lunches and snacks for our 8 hour day Saturday. We did not purchase any concessions or dancewear from the event. My general rule is that I buy Annabeth one dance shirt from Nationals each year but not from any of the other events. Last year we did splurge and get two shirts at Nationals since she made Best of the Best and she wanted an "Award Winning Dancer" shirt.

- Sunday afternoon we celebrated my birthday at Mark's parents house. They made a nacho bar and chocolate cookies to celebrate. They also gave me a giftcard to use towards our big vacation for the year. Thank you all!

- Tuesday evening Mark and Annabeth attended his troop's Blue and Gold Ceremony. We are very proud of Mark for completing his Woodbadge. I was very sad to stay home with sick Owen but we enjoyed seeing Mark's pictures and awards when he got home.

- The kids are STILL sick - especially Owen. As a result we stayed home most of the week and skipped a field trip. While the admission was free and I had planned to pack lunch we did save the cost of gas as it would have been an hour each way.

- Wednesday evening Mark taught a class out of town so I took Owen along to drop Annabeth by dance. Even though he was not feeling well, we did stop by the store for a few necessities. He and I had an at home date night and made/ate rice krispie treats.

 Making rice krispies.
No worries, our house is plenty warm (66 degrees) but Owen
loves to wear hats. 

This was our fifth or sixth week of illness for the winter. We've made due by playing and reading at home and borrowing many documentaries from the library. Lots of free fun and thankfully my sister-in-law had even given us a bottle of kids Tylenol so I didn't have to buy any over the past few weeks.

Looking forward to a busy dance weekend and a birthday party for one of my favorite people.

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, February 21, 2020

Frugal Friday 332

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last Friday was Valentine's Day/My Birthday. We exchanged Valentine's in the morning and gifted each of the kids some small, fun items. We always just exchange cards between us.

- The kids and I spent a few hours at the Eiteljorg Museum. We used a library pass for FREE admission (Saved $31), got our parking validated (Saved: $10) , and saved 10% ($2.20) on a delicious lunch in their cafe. We are SO thankful that our local libraries offer these passes.

- I stopped on the way home from the museum for my FREE Starbucks Birthday treat. Saved: $5.44

- We, as always, ate my birthday dinner at home. It's far too busy to try to eat out on Valentine's Day so I just made a meal that I really like. Mark got me a cheesecake as a birthday dessert.

- We wrapped up a Cards for a Cause Fundraiser for our dance studio. A few families had missed out on the fall fundraiser and wanted to do one this month. I happily said yes and in less than two weeks they had their orders in, money in their dance account, and cards delivered!

- Monday Mark was off work for the President's Day holiday. We took the kids to Garfield Park and enjoyed the conservatory, a reptile class, and a good run in the Sunken Gardens. Mark also helped the kids find a geocache that we hadn't been able to find on previous trips. It helped to have someone who finds clues for a living!

Riley Family School Field Trip

- My friend Ann and I won a Facebook contest a few years ago and so now we always add eachother's names on those contests. This week Ann won AGAIN and I got a beautiful handmade hat and a Starbucks giftcard as my prize. Thank you Ann for tagging me!

- Tuesday evening, Annabeth had 4H. I picked up two of her friends and left Owen with their mom and younger siblings to play. Both kids enjoyed some time apart and some time with just their friends. This was a nice way to mix up our week.

- We took two huge boxes of items to donate. I did our first round sort of all of our spring sale items. I have all the kids' clothes hung and organized. I also received my first round of items for Express Tagging. I entered her 100 items into the system on Sunday afternoon. I learned a great deal last fall and have a new storage and organization system for Express Tagging this spring. I look forward to working with more conisgners this sale to earn money towards summer fun!

- Yesterday, the kids and I enjoyed the morning out at the Church of God Homeschool Storytime. We meet once a month with dear friends for Bible lesson, songs, and fun. If you are local please let me know if you would like to join us next month.

- Today is the LAST DAY for my Spring Bookraiser for the Riley Cheer Guild at Riley Children's Hospital. This spring we have been asked to donate chapter books and we look forward to helping fill their library cart with wonderful Usborne and Kane Miller chapter books. If you feel inclined you may donate here: Spring Bookraiser

We are looking forward to a fun weekend and our first competition weekend of 2020! #SDAalltheway

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, February 14, 2020

Frugal Friday 331

Happy Frugal Friday! Happy Valentine's Day!

- Last Friday, the kids and I went down to Charlestown to celebrate the birthdays of two of our favorite little guys. We enjoyed taking them their presents and some cookies to help celebrate their second and fifth birthdays.

- We then headed on to Evansville for a weekend with my family. My family did a wonderful job of spoiling me for my birthday - they made my favorite meals, had my favorite cookies for dessert, and gave me great books and gift cards. Thank you all!

Birthday Celebration #1 with my #1 Girl

My Mama made this HUGE cookie cake with 33! for me :) 
Thank you Mama!

 Celebrating with Momaw
4 Generations of Love
I am SO thankful for 33 years of learning from these
two women. They have truly made me who I am. 

- Our dear friend Angie O'Leary made shirts for each of the kids. Annabeth is wearing one of the beautiful dance ones in the picture of us above. Please check out Angie's work on her website: Angie O'Leary's Boutique Thank you Angie! 

- We stayed home most days and ate our meals at home. We did one small grocery trip for $40 the week.

- Tuesday evening the kids and I enjoyed Travel Club at the library. This month we heard from a exchange student from Libya. They had a great time learning about his country and learning a few words in Arabic. I resisted the urge to stop through a drive-thru or to eat out and went home to cook dinner.

- Wednesday evening we got the kids' dinner at the dance studio and purchased pizza for each of them. They were super excited to have Pizza Hut pizza.

- Yesterday the kids and I went down to the lake to see our friends the Ottes. The moms each made our kids' main dishes and then split preparing the sides. It was SO good to have a morning with my friend Katie and the kids played very nicely together.

- All night and through yesterday Owen complained that his ear hurt. I took him to Immediate Care on the way home from the lake and he has an ear infection. I am SO SO SO thankful for Mark's current job and our new insurance. With our old insurance a doctor visit and medication would have been at least $130 out of pocket with our new insurance we just had the office co-pay and no RX charge. We are SO thankful for affordable insurance. It has truly changed our lives and finances!

- Last night I went out for a planning meeting for our little homeschool group. The other mom's kindly bought my dessert as an early birthday gift. Thank you Jeanette and Andrea - I am SO thankful to do life and school with you all!

We are looking forward to lots of fun this weekend.

Happy Valentine's Weekend and Happy Savings to All! 

Friday, February 7, 2020

Frugal Friday 330

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Mark worked pretty much night and day and I worked my Usborne Books & More Business.

- I started a fundraiser for our dance studio through my book business. Annabeth is selling greeting cards, through Sunday, to raise money for dance fees. If you would like to buy a box please let us know.

- We ate some "funky dinners." One night we finished six different bags of things in the freezer - chicken, veggies, etc with some fresh fruit. It wasn't Pinterest worthy but we had protein, veggies, fruits, and full bellies. I make a point to only buy what we need for the week, or two weeks depending on how we shop each month, at the grocery. I do not stock up or shop ahead. Why? When I have done that in the past we end up wasting. The menu gets shifted, we have more or less leftovers, and food gets thrown away. By shopping just for the week we eliminate food waste. If I see fresh produce that won't get used, I take it to our church food pantry or a Free Little Pantry.

- Last Friday, Annabeth and I saw the Louisville Ballet at Butler University. The tickets, fees, and parking made it a $40 night which was too affordable to pass up! She and I had a very nice time and she found new dance inspiration.

- I was recovering from a bad cough and Owen had the bad cough through the weekend. He and I stayed home and rested.

- Saturday Mark volunteered with his Scout Troop to make sub sandwiches to sell for a Super Bowl Sunday fundraiser.

- Sunday, Mark and Annabeth enjoyed an afternoon of family time at Mark's parents. Owen and I stayed home, played games, and ate leftovers for our Super Bowl Sunday. Owen sported his favorite new shirt:

Bacon is my favorite vegetable

- We stayed and ate at home all week. We used gas only to do minimal errands and to drive Annabeth to dance class. We ate the food that we had at home and used up most of what we had. We will do a big shopping trip next week.

- Yesterday a shirt came from Etsy. I had been wanting this shirt for a while and finally ordered. When it came I was so sad because I had ordered a light gray shirt and the graphics really didn't look very good on it. I had spent $25 between the shirt and shipping which made me brave enough to message the seller to see if I could exchange it for the darker gray shirt I thought I was ordering. Thankfully the seller was super accommodating and allowed me to do it! I do have to pay shipping both ways (around $10) but I would rather have the shirt I want, and will wear, than to have one that will just sit in my closet.

We are looking forward to a fun weekend celebrating lots of birthdays today and tomorrow.

Happy Savings to All!

Friday, January 31, 2020

Frugal Friday 329

Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- We took the kids to Disney on Ice (for only the second time) as their BIG Christmas gift. I was able to get the tickets 25% off. We also saved on parking as it was $5 less than I had budgeted. We gave each of the kids a coupon with their Christmas gifts to get any toy they wanted at the show. We came in $17 under budget on the toys as well! Hooray!

Owen chose a stuffed Woody as his toy - perfect as it was $10 less than
what I had budgeted. Each of use wore $4 H&M clearance Disney shirts

Annabeth was really excited to have a light-up wand!
Her adorable Mickey princess dress is from Rylee Faith Designs and was under $10!

 Excited for the show to start!

 Owen's face when Woody skated onto the ice - pure joy!

- We had dinner out after the Disney on Ice. We used a giftcard from Christmas 2018 (better late than never!) and just had to cover the tip! :) 

- Mark worked a TON of overtime this week. We were sad to be without him but are thankful that he is able to serve our community with so much care and integrity. This week had a huge case that was very important to work quickly and efficiently and we are proud of the work of the whole police department.

- Tuesday morning, Annabeth got her expander out! She will still wear it at night and still has orthodontics on the bottom but is VERY happy to have the big, clunky top piece out! Not frugal necessarily but a big moment in the week.

- After Annabeth's appointment, I took the kids to Target to spend a Christmas giftcard. Owen chose a stuffed animal and a PawPatrol set and Annabeth chose two small items for her dolls and saved the rest. I like to spread out giftcards and with Mark working night-and-day this week and continued on and off sickness in the house I thought we needed a pick-me-up!

- Wednesday the kids went, Annabeth for the first time ever, to get their hair cut at a salon. Thank you to the incredible Christy Stearns for doing our hair this week!



Owen's Haircut
He went through pages of choices and wanted this look.
The stuffed animal is his new one from his giftcard. 

- This was week four where at least one of us was sick. We keep passing the same cough and runny nose around the house over and over. We did a another big, deep clean and opened windows so I am hoping we've scared the germs away.

We are looking forward to a weekend with, hopefully, all of us home!