Friday, April 16, 2021

Frugal Friday 390

 Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last Saturday, Owen had t-ball pictures. We did splurge (so not 100% frgual) on t-ball pictures again this year. In all honesty, they are surprisingly affordable for a little set of them and it's VERY important to Owen that he have them. He is very excited to pass them out to "all his fans"

- Saturday evening we went to a really fun birthday party. The kids were SO excited to play with some of their best friends and these friends REALLY know how to do kids' parties! The kids played, spent time in a jumbo monster truck photo booth, and ate their fill of pizza and cake. I note this because it was WONDERFUL to feel back to more normal, celebrating in person with friends.

- Mark was out of town last weekend leading a Boy Scout program. He was then gone this week as well for Raven's Challenge with the Bomb Team. We missed him but know that he did a great deal of learning and teaching this week.

- I had planned to explore some park or do a hike after church but failed to check the weather as I made my plans. We ended up staying home all day as it poured. We went ahead and did school since it was too rainy/cold to be outside. That felt like the best use of our time.

- Monday - Wednesday my dad was in town. It was great to have him here to play with the kids and it helped me get a great deal of work done while they still had someone to supervise them. The kids loved going to multiple parks, eating lunch out two days in a row, getting new bike accessories, and taking long bike rides. He also mowed the lawn for me which was so kind. Thank you Dad!

- Tuesday afternoon I took Owen for a haircut. For a while we did his haircuts at home sometimes that went okay, other times not so much. We decided to work it into our budget to have his hair done outside the home. Our dear friend Miss Christy does his hair as well as mine and Annabeth's but less often for us girls. If we can't do it for free at home, we are happy to pay our friend. Local and need great hair? Check out Hair by Christy Stearns

Stylin' with his Ring Pop

- I got to take Owen to Lions for the first time this week, obviously he usually goes with Mark since he's the leader, and they planted seeds as part of his very last Lion Elective. Owen is looking forward to growing his own little garden this spring/summer.

- I spent 7+ hours organizing and tagging ALL of my items plus three express taggers items for the Here We Grown Again Kids Sale. I put roughly 10-15 hours of work into each sale and I am SO thankful for this extra income each year. Last year we used the sale money as our souvenir money for Disney World. This year we plan to use it to pay towards a hotel stay.

- We did a small ($44) grocery haul for the week. What did we eat? Pork Loin/Broccoli/Sweet Potatoes, Chinese Chicken/Rice/Broccoli, BLTs, and Shrimp Fajitas. Owen also made a homemade fruit salad and Annabeth made cake pops.

Her first time making cake pops. 
They were lemon flavored and she did baseballs and unicorns

- Yesterday we babysat my niece. The kids had a great time holding her and looking at her little outfits. They are so cute with their little cousins. 

We had a great week, we missed Mark, but are looking forward to all being home together soon.

Happy Savings to All! 

Friday, April 9, 2021

Frugal Friday 389

 Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last Friday we had friends over to play and they stayed for dinner. Mark made pork fajitas with rice. The kids are SO happy to have warmer/lighter evenings for longer outdoor play.

- I cleaned out my closet last week and so did my sister. We traded some clothes and she brought a big pile of headbands for Annabeth. I think Annabeth has worn a different one each day this week. 

- Saturday evening we had my family over for dinner. We ordered Jockamos pizza and provided cheesecake and brownies for dessert. It was a combined birthday party for my parents as it fell between their two birthdays. We tried to make it special with their favorite foods and with their favorite desserts.

- We were surprised with eggs in our front yard after Saturday dinner. The eggs weren't for us though - our friend Stephanie at Fuller Klipz Mobile Grooming had egged Oscar! All of the eggs had puppy treats in them. Stephanie not only does an amazing job with Oscar's hair but has so many special touches that make her business truly personal. 

- We were SO thrilled to have in-person church services for Easter this year. We had sorely missed celebrating Christ's Resurrection with people last year and are so thankful to be coming through the other side of this pandemic. 

- Sunday after church my parents did an egg hunt for the kids and we provided lunch. We served party ham sandwiches, deviled eggs, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and we all decorated sugar cookies after lunch. Thank you to my friend Katelyn Schwander for the delicious cookie kits! 

- Sunday evening we went to Mark's parents' house where the kids hunted eggs with their cousins. Since we did not have family Easter last year, Owen didn't remember egg hunts or about the candy so he was VERY excited about all of it. We took deviled eggs, rice krispies, and Easter bark as our contributions to dinner.

- Monday night Owen had t-ball. Annabeth came along to the park and was happy to see three of her friends. She enjoyed playing on the playground and O enjoyed practice. 

- I wrapped up my Spring Book Drive for the Riley Cheer Guild at Riley Children's Hospital. With everyone's donation, my donation, and the Usborne Books & More 50% match program we are donating $375 in books to the Riley Cheer Guild! This year they requested baby/toddler books so we worked to fill that need. Thank you to everyone who prayed over this campaign, shared my posts, and especially to those who donated. 

- Last Night was Date Night for the kids. Owen and I headed to Greenwood and spent a giftcard from Christmas 2019. He, of course, chose a Hot Wheels item. We also had dinner out. Mark and Annabeth started a cooking project; they are going to cook through a series of cookbooks. Last night they made a chocolate cheese cake which received two thumbs up. They both love cooking/baking so I think they will really enjoy this.

Overall, we had a lovely sunny week with lots of school and lots of time outdoors. We're in the home stretch of the school year (which we are all so so so excited about since we started July 1) and ready for summer break! 

We are looking forward to a weekend with lots to do and beautiful weather in the forecast! 

Happy Savings to All! 

Friday, April 2, 2021

Frugal Friday 388

 Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last Friday night Mark picked up pizza and had a pizza/show night watching the new "Mighty Ducks" show on Disney+. I was a HUGE Mighty Ducks fan and the show's first episode didn't disappoint. 

- Friday afternoon - Sunday I watched my in-laws' dogs while they were on a weekend trip. I saved them the cost of a dog sitter and I enjoyed some quiet evenings reading. I made it through 1.5 books this weekend!

- Saturday Mark and the kids came up to visit. We first went to Southeastway Park to play on the big playground. Annabeth was done after about 45 minutes so she hung out at the house with Mark. Owen and I went to another nearby park and he enjoyed climbing the bigger spiderweb there. We also took a nice long walk along the trail - we found a waterfall, bridge, and two lakes. Owen spent more than an hour throwing different items down the stream into the waterfall and enjoyed predicting how quickly each item (leaf, bark,rock, etc) would travel. We try to live by the principal "What the child finds worthy IS worthy." 


- Sunday evening I ran a book sale in my Usborne Books & More group to help people fill last minute Easter Book wishes. I love our Easter collection this year and was so happy to share it.

- We did an indoor campout Sunday night (we had some pretty high winds here). We ate Sunday Sundaes and watched UofL Women's Basketball beat Oregon! GO CARDS!

- Monday after an appointment in Greenwood we checked another park off our Park Visit List. We enjoyed a little nature walk and playground play. The kids loved showing Mark one of our favorite short trails.

- Monday evening Mark and I had a meeting at a church. The kids came along and enjoyed playing on the playground with new friends.  

- Tuesday morning I traded kids with a neighbor - she took all of the girls and I had the boys. All of the kids enjoyed two hours of playtime away from some of their siblings, much needed in homeschool families, and then we all came together for lunch. It was a great surprise to have lunch made for us and I really appreciated that.

- Tuesday evening Owen had a Pack Meeting at Cub Scouts. He earned five belt loops. He has now completed all of the required elements, and all but one of the electives, for the rank of Lion. Way to go O!

- I cannot believe that I haven't mentioned our BIGGEST savings of 2021 so far - Mark spent several weeks working in our kitchen and he has repainted all of the cabinet bases and doors. We never got a professional quote on this but we spent less than $100 on the project and I know it would have been more than that. It looks amazing! Thank you Mark! 

- I did a quick sweep of my closet and parted ways with 11 items. I will let my Mama and sister look through and then I will donate what no one can use.

- Wednesday we met at my friend Katelyn's house to assemble our Easter Book and Cookie Kits. Thank you Katelyn for being the baker for these fun sets! 

We are looking forward to a busy, fun weekend celebrating our Risen Savior!

Happy Easter and Happy Savings to All!

Friday, March 26, 2021

Frugal Friday 387

 Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Last Saturday was Annabeth's second competition of the year. We opted to drive over Saturday morning (saving the cost of hotel) and we also packed our own lunches. This venue did not have concessions but we could have easily gotten food nearby. We skipped that and ate from home. We also did not buy any competition shirts or gear. 

- Sunday after church we cleaned house. This was our first big, deep clean as a family in a while and it was SO nice to have the house looking perfect for the day.

- Sunday evening we hosted Sunday Dinner for Mark's family. We served chili, fritos, cornbread, and homemade rice krispie treats. Mark and Owen made dinner and Owen and I made dessert. We had a great time visiting with everyone.

- Our neighbors had a family reunion. The grandma was kind enough to include our kids in their Kid Kits so each of our kids got bubbles and chalk. Perfect for outdoor play!

- Monday our friends the Eblings came to play after school. We served smorgasbord lunch - veggie chips, pretzels, meat, cheese, strawberries, fruit pouches, and Made Good bars for dessert. The kids put together some "plays" for the Mamas and enjoyed hours outside.

- Rose's boys are redoing their rooms and one of their old themes is the theme Owen chose for his Birthday Room Makeover for June. They sent us pictures of decor they were parting with and he chose two items. We traded those for a huge bag of hand me down clothes for her boys. Thank you Eblings!

- Tuesday night was our meatless meal this week. We had egg sandwiches and fruit/veggie smoothies. This was a great, quick meal before 4H and Scouts.

- Annabeth had her monthly 4H meeting this week. They finished up building their own rovers and raced them. Each of the kids also got to work with a large robot that older kids had built for competition. I am so thankful for my 13 years in 4H and I am so thrilled to be able to give my kids that same great experience. 

- We, once again, forgot to edit our Imperfect Order and so we had even more mushrooms and lettuce that we couldn't eat all of this week. I put it on Facebook and some friends came to pick up so they could enjoy it this week. 

- One afternoon while we were out front riding bikes, friends stopped to chat on a walk. We had not seen these friends since before Quarantine last year.  It was AMAZING to catch up in person!

-  Wednesday night I went to bed around nine. I often talk about being frugal with our finances and resources but I also think it's important to be good stewards of our time. It felt great to wake up Thursday morning really well rested. 

- We visited the library this week to check out new books, videos, and resources for school. While we do purchase some school books we keep our school budget around $250 for the year and we do that by using the library and free local resources as much as possible. 

We had a great week, spent many hours outdoors, read and painted a great deal, and are looking forward to a weekend with gorgeous spring weather!

Happy Savings to All! 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

My Endometriosis Journey

 March is Endometriosis Awareness Month.

What is Endometriosis? Endometriosis is a condition where the lining of the uterus flows out into the pelvic cavity - instead of flowing out of the body it wraps around organs in the body. About 11% of American women are diagnosed with Endometriosis.

Here's my story...

I always had really painful cycles - I thought that was normal. I knew my other friends had cramps and I just assumed I wasn't as tough as them as I went home early from school or stayed home from events in pain. 

This continued until I was 20. I was in my 3rd, and final, year at college and was in horrific pain not just "that" week but throughout the month as well. The pain was getting worse and I found myself staying in my apartment more and more. At first, I thought it was the stress of carrying 21 credit hours, balancing work and school, and living off campus for the first time. By October I called my mom and said "I think I need to see a doctor." I went home on Fall Break and saw our family physician who ordered and ultrasound. I was back at school by the time it had been read so we just had a phone call about the results. She diagnosed me with Stage 3 Endometriosis. She recommended oral hormones and suggested that when I got married (Mark and I were engaged already) that I see a specialist as I would need surgery in order to get pregnant. 

That was a HEAVY phone call. I was alone in my apartment, not sure want to think, called Mark sobbing to let him know that I may not be able to have children, he reassured me that he was open to adoption, and I went to the pharmacy to fill my prescription. The oral medication did help relieve some pain during my cycles and I had less breakthrough pain during the rest of the month. It felt like the best case scenario and just wanted to survive the rest of college.

Me at 20.
This is my favorite picture from that fall. My friend Daniel
and I walked to the stadium for a UfoL game.

**I do want to point out that I was INCREDIBLY blessed to be diagnosed by the first doctor that I saw and at a young age. Thankfully she was very knowledgeable and quick to name the problem. I now know people who see multiple doctors before getting any kind of diagnosis. 

Mark and I married in May 2009. I saw two doctors in Indianapolis before finding our family practitioner that we love. The first two doctors were not kind or understanding in any way. They were always short with me, quick to get me out the door, and I didn't know how to stand up for myself and to ask for more. I just quietly dealt with the pain and the fear that we wouldn't be able to have children.

By the grace of God have welcomed two biological children. Both times it took us quite a while to get pregnant but we feel incredibly blessed to have had two healthy pregnancies and two healthy babies. While we had difficult, horrific with Annabeth, deliveries none of the issues with either delivery were because of my endometriosis.

We welcomed Annabeth in October 2011.
Owen joined us in June 2015

Having the children was wonderful and exciting and my health took a backseat. I dealt with chronic discomfort and pain over the years and masked it by staying home many days. I was frustrated. I felt like in my 20s I should have been able to easily take my kids to the library or park without terrible pain. Every doctor visit I would mention it but each time I heard "It's just like this for some ladies" or "Some people have a harder time than others" or "You just have to deal with it" 

In July 2018, I sneezed in our kitchen and fell to my knees in pain. I spent months having expensive scans done, meeting with surgeons, and visiting new doctors. I have written about my 2018 surgery here. In short, I FINALLY met a doctor who said "Amy, this is really serious. You have polyps in your uterus and you have endometriosis spread through out your stomach. We're going to do surgery next week." That surgery changed everything for me and meeting that surgeon changed everything. Following that surgery I had 18 months with virtually no pain. My cycles were tolerable. I could take the kids on long walks, go on hikes, visit the park and never worry that I wouldn't be able to walk to the car. I felt like I had my body back and I also felt like I had so much mental health back as I was finally heard.

Then last spring it was back. At first small crampy pain, then that nagging ache, and by summer the pain was back in full force. I thought I was going to pass out from the pain while waiting to turn in Annabeth's 4H project, I would collapse in the car after pushing a shopping cart through the grocery, I began making excuses to stay home so no one would know. 

By July I couldn't take it anymore and called my favorite surgeon. He saw me within days because of the fear of polyps (possible cancer) returning. The ultrasound confirmed what I already knew - the endometriosis was everywhere, wrapped around organs, and a large tumor had formed. We made one last ditch effort to treat it with medication, the insurance company likes to see this tried before they cover surgery, but 60 days into the 90 day trial I was worse than ever. So, last fall, at just 33 I had a hysterectomy (full post on that here

Since having Annabeth I have had five surgeries, some too personal to ever include here. For 13 years I fought a battle with the name Endometriosis and for many years before that I fought a nameless beast. I am daily amazed with how I feel - I find myself walking with the kids, afraid to walk too far until I remember that there's no pain - I can make it home. Sitting on hard chairs or in the car used to cause pressure and pain - I avoided visiting family/friends because I didn't want to deal with the pain. We went to Florida after the surgery and I easily made the trip. As of November I am officially cancer/tumor free. The last step of this journey will be a one year check in October to ensure that no microscopic endometriosis was left. 

Why do I share this?

I share for my 20 year old self who didn't know that I deserved more than a phone call diagnosis and a pill treatment plan.

I share for my 20-something year old self who was ignored, belittled, and shot down by OBGYNs who should have done better.

I share for my 30-something year old self who finally understood how to stand up for myself. 

As for you...

Get checked. Go to your yearly exam. Be open. Be honest. When you're not heard - say it louder and find someone who WILL LISTEN. You get one body, one life. Don't waste it because it's hard to speak out. 

Friday, March 19, 2021

Frugal Friday 386

 Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- Saturday we enjoyed the Baptism of our newest niece. We gifted her a Bible book and money for her college fund. When our old nieces were baptized (nearly 11 years ago) we began giving that gift and have carried it through the years.

- Saturday evening we celebrated her Baptism and all of the adult spring birthdays (5/6 of us) with a sushi dinner. It was so great to have the STL Rileys in and our kids just couldn't play long enough!

- Sunday we were back IN PERSON CHURCH for the first time since last fall. We were open just a few weeks last fall but it was right around when I had surgery so we only were able to go two times. This makes just the third time we've been to our own church since last March. It was so nice!

- Sunday afternoon we enjoyed a really fun Mickey O-TWO-doodles party for our nephew. Again, the kids just loved playing with their cousins and playing with the party balloons/favors all week long. 

- My dad came to visit Monday- Wednesday. Monday was rainy so we enjoyed some indoor games and made homemade lasagna for dinner.

- Tuesday morning we made homemade donuts with my new donut maker from Matt and Jenn. Thank you all for the maker and ingredients - we had so much fun!

- Tuesday we treated Dad to a day at the Indianapolis Zoo. We really enjoyed our day there - it was foggy/drizzly so the zoo was basically empty. While the Indianapolis Zoo is VERY expensive - we did save some money by going during the winter months as much more affordable in the winter than in nicer weather.

The kids hadn't been to the Indy Zoo for almost four years
so they didn't remember much of it. The butterfly
garden was a HUGE hit! They loved it!

We loved having whole areas to ourselves!
Nothing like visiting places on drizzly days so we
can take our time observing things. 

- Tuesday night Dad treated us to Jockamo's Pizza between the zoo and Lions for Owen. Thank you Dad! 

- Wednesday Dad took the kids out on a date before school. They took a really long bike ride, had a picnic, and visited the library. Thanks for a great visit Dad!

- A friend tagged me on a Facebook post where a woman had wire hangers available. She gave me hundreds of hangers which is WONDERFUL as I need them for the spring sale in just a couple of weeks. She gave them to me for free - I just had to pick up.

- We accidentally forgot to edit our Imperfect order (yes, again) and ended up with fruits/veggies we don't usually order. We had a whole pile of lemons so yesterday Owen and I made homemade lemonade for the first time. He really enjoyed cooking down the sugar and mixing all of the ingredients. 

- We donated a cabinet from our school room to Kic-It's new office. Kic-It staff was also kind enough to give us a tour of their new facility. We look forward to blessing them again when they have a need we can meet. 

- Today is the last day to order a Book and Cookie Kit through my Usborne Books & More page. Special thanks to my friend (and incredible baker) Katelyn Schwander for teaming up with me for this fun project. You can order here: Book and Cookie Kits Order Form 

We had a great week and enjoyed lots of fun out of the house learning for school. We aren't taking a formal Spring Break this year but I plan to include some Field Trips over the next couple of weeks.

Happy Savings to All! 

Friday, March 12, 2021

Frugal Friday 385

 Happy Frugal Friday!

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

- At the end of last week, Owen and I did a massive room clean-out. We tried on ALL of his clothing from last summer only to find that 95% of it was too small. Thankfully we have hand-me-downs in the next size.

- I listed much of the clothing on Facebook and sold alot of it. Made: $30

- We passed along t-ball gear to friends. These items had been handed-down to us and we were happy to keep passing along.

- Saturday and Sunday Annabeth was at Dance Makers (DMI) Convention in Indinaapolis. We saved money by not staying in a hotel but instead making the 6:30 AM drive north each day. We carpooled with friends to save gas, time, and money for each of us. Annabeth, as always, LOVED this weekend and enjoyed learning new techniques from new teachers.

- Mark was gone over the weekend teaching a course with BSA. He has really enjoyed leading this program this spring.

- Owen and I enjoyed lots of quality time. We painted, crafted, read about 50 animal books, took long walks with Oscar, and he logged many hours riding his bike. 

- Tuesday we drove down to UofL. My old dorm, Threlkeld Hall, is being torn down and the Housing Office graciously saved bricks for former Threlkeld students who wanted them. The kids and I hit the book store, walked campus, took pictures, picked up my brick, and the kids kindly listened to my many stories about my years at UofL.

- After our visit, we took our picnic lunch to our friends' house in Charlestown and we enjoyed an afternoon of outdoor play. We always LOVE seeing the Eblings.

- Our Matilda Jane rewards box came from my March Party. I was so surprised to find one of the spring necklaces, I thought it was an error, but my friend/Trunk Keeper Danielle told me it was a surprise gift from her to me! Thank you Danielle - that absolutely made my day! Need a Trunk Keeper? Shop with Danielle

- I ordered some spring birthday gifts from my favorite online jewelry shop Spiffy and Splendid. I have purchased a ton of her stud earrings for myself, gifts, and incentives for my #bookbosses. This week she had a deal where if you purchased a certain amount you got a free pair. I received a beautiful rose pink pair free.

- Today at noon I'll be launching VERY EXCITING Easter Book Kits! Join me in me in my VIP Group for all of the details! 

We have been counting down to the weekend for many weeks as we are SO excited to see family from our of town that we haven't seen in 6 months! Woohoo!!

Happy Savings to All!