Super Busy at Home

Family blog about homeschooling, autism, saving money, mom blog, travel, vacation, budgeting.

October Recap!

October came and went like a blur!  It was crazy!  

As a gentle recap, over the past 365 days I have taken on three new positions, I am now sitting on 2 boards of directors, and still homeschooling away.  It's crazy busy and most days I feel like I have lost my darn mind, but in a good fulfilling way.  And when I remember to lean into God's power and might (which I need to remember to do constantly...) I am reminded how much I can do when I do not rely on my strength but His.  

Anyway, October is my favorite month for the crispness of everything.  Do you know what I mean?  It's so great!  I was thinking of this the other's crazy, weird that NOVEMBER isn't my favorite month since that one holds gratitude, my birthday, Christmas decorating, and shopping, but no, October still holds to be my favorite month.  

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It started with this crazy brood!  We went to the pumpkin farm, picked the perfect guy, and came home to carve away!  It was so much fun.  I love our little family so much!  

And then blur, blur, blur, blur, blur and before I could fully blink we were to Halloween!  


This year Calvin was ninja (in New Balance Tennis shoes because that's how I roll) and Emma was Nancy Drew.  

Seriously how stinking cute are these two kids of ours?  Oh, and since we fast forwarded to Halloween from the Pumpkin Farm you can see that the majority of my pumpkins are now rotten.  Gross!  Guys, I need legit ways to keep these suckers alive.  Help!  Every year pumpkins fall victim to my pumpkin killing and the massacre just has to end.  Do I need to bleach them?  Talk to them?  Stop singing to them?  (Just asking that last one for a friend...promise!)

Anyway, now's where we talk about the no spend challenge and you wonder what happened to the girl who started out so gung-ho at the beginning of the year and now you haven't heard from about it in a million years.  So, we are still TRYING to do the no spend challenge.  Y'all it is so hard!  So, so hard.  So we'll use the kids' costumes as an example.  Emma totally went with the no spend idea and came up with something brilliant.  We didn't spend a dime on her costume and she kept getting so many compliments.  Calvin on the other hand had one specific thing in his mind...the kid wanted to be a ninja...again.  We tried making one at home for him, talking him through it, but alas, he was insisting on the costume.  So we compromised and we purchased him a less expensive costume than what he wanted.  No kid wants to have a costume that they hate and we didn't know what to do other than compromise.  We spend $20ish dollars on this versus the $75 costumes in previous years.  See?  We're making some progress!  

The pumpkins were another issue with our no-spend year.  I had to decorate my porch. Sorry, not sorry, that's just the case.  So I took a fence panel from my neighbors free pile at their garage sale, dragged out other things I already had but had to have some pumpkins.  Last year I spent over $60 on pumpkins.  You all!  That is crazy!  So this year we found a new place to get pumpkins and for all of them they were $20.  So I spent some but not nearly as much as I was in previous years!  

But back to Halloween...

We don't really "celebrate" Halloween but we trick or treat.  

For those of you just joining us, we live in a National Historic District and we just love it!  

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From the street lights to the brick paved streets, we love our neighborhood.  Trick or Treating always helps me to take time to pause and reflect on how beautiful our neighborhood is.  The kids trick or treating is like going through a 1950's neighborhood.  All of the historic homes and picket fences make it so cheerful and nice.  

And I have to show you this because it was hilarious...


When there's a construction project why not be silly? 

So there's our recap of October!  I hope you all are enjoying your November! I've missed having time to write...gah!  Hopefully I'll be writing more! 

Weeks 8, 9, 10, 11 (Gulp) Recap of No Spend Challenge

The last time I posted a weekly update I was feeling a bit blah about weekly updates. 

So I decided I would make them every other week. 

Well, that gota little bit away from me as I mentioned in my last post with some emotions.  But I am back and ready to tell you how we have been doing!

So, how have we been doing with not spending? 

Not good, friends, not good. 

Nick has been traveling a ton.  Lots...oodles.  It's been awesome for him.  He was specially selected for a special project at work and we are all super proud of him.  We know it's only one year (the project has him traveling a lot but there is a definite end date so we know this isn't forever, whew!).  Still though, I can know it is only one year but when we are in the thick of it things are hard. 

For one I do not do good with having to do EVERYTHING around here.  Usually he comes home and helps me with the kiddos or something.  I haven't actually been able to pin point why it's different but it is when he isn't home.  So anyway, I do not like cooking food when Nick is gone. 

The first week he was home meant that I bought way too much take out and fast food.  We all felt gross on top of missing Nick.  Thankfully when Nick got home he identified this for me and took me to Costco to buy whatever I wanted to make this month easier.  We stocked up on all kinds of organic convenience foods (nuggets, burrito bowls, anything, everything).  I don't normally buy this kind of stuff but that stuff came out of our grocery budget so it wasn't really considered extra spending and it's really helped me since then to not go out at night when I don't want to cook. 

The second week Nick was gone was not cool.  I was not sleeping well and I was up all hours at night so I got to thinking about everything.  And by everything I mean like "ooh, that sweatshirt I've ALWAYS wanted is finally on sale!  I need that."  and "Emma is going to need new ballet tights soon and if I spend $50 I get free shipping...score!"  Thinking about those types of things. 

Anyway, that being said I purchased clothes, coats for next year, leotards, whatever.  I bought way too much.  Granted, it is stuff that we need and we have the money and whatever!  But the point of this year was to not be just mindlessly shopping and getting stuff that we are going to need in the future.  We are just supposed to be concentrating on the here and now...concentrating on what we have and using what we have rather than always seeing gaps around the house of things we need to buy.

So that being said, we did get way off track (well not WAY off track, but off track enough) but we have now come back around. 

Today I am taking the kids out to eat at a restaurant they have been BEGGING to go to.  Is it a needed expense?  Absolutely not.  But Nick is out of town, it's something we've been looking forward to and kids eat free today. 

I figure that is a somewhere in the middle compromise.  I can stay the course and treat them a teeny bit here and there.  At least that's my plan when Nick is out of town.  These kids miss their daddy something fierce and it's sometimes hard coming up with things that excite them to get them out of their funk. 

So that is it for now.  So sorry it's been so long since my last no-spend post.  I'll be better and you can look for them every two weeks from now on. 

Be blessed, friends!

Week 7 Recap of our No-Spend Challenge

Well this was the first week that I heard serious complaining about the no spend challenge. 

Emma was hilarious when she said "we had a good two months of this no spend challenge.  Now I think it's time to be done.  Let's order Chinese food." 

And believe me I was feeling the same way!  I was ready for Chinese food and not cooking too, but we didn't cave and had frozen pizzas instead. 

Can you picture me with my head hung low and pouting?  Because that's what I was looking like. 

Thankfully I am realizing that when one of us is weak and ready to give up (usually me) then there is the other person to stay strong and diligent (usually Nick). 

Valentine's Day was a bit hard with the no spend challenge. 

We are not huge spenders for Valentine's Day.  I've never gotten Diamond anything.  I do usually get roses.  But this year I knew I wouldn't be getting anything.  Still there was this TINY part of my brain that was just wishing and hoping that he would come home with something that I would act upset he spent money for but secretly was delighted he brought home. 

You know what I am talking about! 

But he didn't buy anything.  Well I take that back he did go to the store and bought crab and oysters to go with our beef tenderloin stay-in date meal. 

However I had had the same thought of a little surf with our turf and bought lobster tails. 

So it was a huge seafood feast. 

Nick also came home with an old fashioned love letter. 

It was my first one ever and it made me sob.  Big, ugly tears, sob.

It was perfect.  It helped me to realize that some of the most beautiful things in this world are free.  They don't cost money, they aren't big and flashy, but instead are simple and true words that mean the most. 

The days before Valentine's Day I was prepared that we wouldn't be buying the kids a ton of fun Valentine's stuff like we normally do. 

Valentine's Day on the No Spend Challenge

I had purchased Emma's Valentine's Day gift last year before we started the no-spend challenge.  So I purchased a small lego set for Calvin so he would have something soon. 

To make their special day a bit more special we made some sweet treats with things that we already had at home so they didn't cost a lot of money. 

Valentine's Day on the No Spend Challenge

We made cookies which was lots of fun! The kids took a cookie decorating class last year so I whipped up a batch of royal icing and we had fun decorating cookies for our friends and family (and for us, of course!)

Valentine's Day on the No Spend Challenge

We had fun breakfasts!  For this I made toast and used a cookie cutter to carve out a heart from the center.  I then put Peanut butter on the heart and strawberry jam around the outskirt of the toast.  We had strawberry milk because strawberry milk makes everything better.  And I love these napkins that I bought last year from Marshalls. 

Valentine's Day on the No Spend Challenge

And of course we had fun lunches!  The kids' favorite lunch is a muffin tin lunch.  I bought these sweet 6 cup muffin tins from the Dollar Store, and then I put fun things in them!  For this lunch I gave them strawberry flavored string cheese, vanilla yogurt with sprinkles, strawberrys, grape tomatoes, more strawberry milk, and some heart shaped sweet tarts. 

I love giving them fun lunches, it really helps to break up the homeschool day and make things more exciting. 

Valentine's Day on the No Spend Challenge

A special part of Valentine's Day was someone sending me a gift!  I love colored pens and someone sent these to me with a sweet Homeschooling Momma card.  I have no idea who sent these to me but it was just the sweetest thing! So if you are reading this and it was you, thank you!

All in all it was a great Valentine's Day and week. 

It was really nice when it was all said and done to not have the guilt that I spent too much on the kids or spoiled them more than I should have.  It was a great day and we loved spending time with one another which is the best part of Valentine's Day! 

I hope you all had a great Valentine's week.  Please let me know how you are doing on your own no-spend challenges. 

Love to you all! 

Weeks 5 & 6 Included Deep Cleaning and Sorrows

It was crickets from me last week and I am so sorry!  We had a funeral and a very bad autism week and before I knew it the week had ended. 

This was a sign Emma put on her door...she's obviously reading Anne of Green Gables!

I was emotionally spent last week.  Saying good-bye to a dear family friend was hard.  And then we've been dealing with some really, really matters of the heart with Cal.  Things keep creeping up in which I have no idea where they are coming from or why.  I'm trying to hang on for dear life as a parent but my, oh, my that boy sure knows how to stretch his Momma! 

I'm not going to lie, when I am having these hard times I do not want to cook or eat cleanly or only shop for my needs.  Everything in me wants to go to Culvers and buy everything and then double size it. 

But I didn't and I consider that a victory and at least some-what of a step in the right direction. 


I mentioned in my last post that I had found myself spending money due to my house not being clean so I was unable (or unwilling!) to entertain friends. 

So last week I moved some things around in our schedule and cancelled school for the week. 

By the way, I love the flexibility of homeschooling that I can take time off when I need to rather than having to fit into a rigid schedule. 

This week we have been cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.  But more than cleaning we have been purging our home of necessary items. 

It will easier to keep things tidy with less things to tidy, right?

It has been a very freeing feeling. 

For example, I took all of the dresses out of Emmas closet.  She had 37 by the way.  We weeded through what she plain just didn't like, what didn't fit, what was too big, etc. And while she still has a boat-load of dresses we at least now only have 28 dresses. Okay we stink at getting rid of things but we did get rid of some.  The "use it up" part of me wants to keep what we have already been given or purchased because we have it....the minimalist emerging in me wants her to have 4 dresses.  They argue a lot in my head as to what the correct method should be, lol.

I know everyone loves Spring Cleaning but I personally love Winter cleaning...there's nothing to do outdoors anyway, cleaning gets your heart pumping and gets you moving, and when Spring finally does come you can be outside and have the satisfaction that your home is already clean! See?  What's not to love?

We not only cleaned our house but we also kept telling that each room that was clean was now "sealed". 

When the whole house was cleaned I sat the kids down and told them our entire house is clean so our entire house and our lives are now "sealed". 

But what does sealed mean?

It means that we are keeping it clean of clutter, dirt, and most of all, bad attitudes and past habits. 

We had gotten into such a rut of viewing our home as dingy and bleh, and when you do that it is so easy to not have motivation for keeping it clean. 

But when things are clean everything looks as if in a new light.  We should take care of our things.  We should honor them and feel blessed to be so blessed. 

So we are sealed off from complaining.  We will no longer be inconsiderate of others by making sure we now pick up our items and leaving a room how we found it (I'm not sure why but this one has seemed to really stick with Cal which I am loving!). 

A week has gone by since we "sealed" our house and I can tell you it is working! 

This weekend things got really out of sorts but when I asked the kids to help tidy up they were more than happy to get things back to how they was amazing!  Usually it would be a lot of fussing and complaining but they had noticed the clutter too and they were unhappy about it too! 

And you know what else is nice?  Cleaning!  I know that sounds weird but it is so lovely to vacuum without having to move a bunch of stuff to do it.  Novel, right? 

I hope your weeks have been great.  I miss you all and I miss writing and you guys keeping me accountable in this journey! 

I hope you have a fantastic you all! 



Coffee Shop Hop and Week 4 Recap: No Spend Challenge

Week 4 has come and gone and I cannot believe that an entire month has gone by in our no-spend challenge!  11 more months to go, right?

I can't wait for this year to be over, not because I am writing down all of the things that I am going to run out and buy but because this takes some serious effort. Legit. This week I had some bad moments.  Let me tell you about them:

Coffee Shop Work Sessions are wreaking havoc on my no-spend challenge.  What do you order to save money?

Monday I met a friend for coffee to work on a project together.  She was super sweet and had asked if she could come over to our house.  But for real our house looked like Stonehenge with Christmas bins stacked everywhere so I declined and we went to a coffee shop. 

It wasn't until I was driving to the coffee shop that I had one of those lightbulb moments, thinking "huh, I guess I'm going to have to actually purchase something."  You know how shop keepers frown upon you just sitting there and not actually getting something. 

I purchased my coffee and got a small one but I did get one of those frou-frou drinks and it all being said it was $5.  I kind of did a walk of shame to the table with my coffee and felt bad for spending so much. 

Coffee Shop Work Sessions are wreaking havoc on my no-spend challenge.  What do you order to save money?

The next night, Emma had scouts which is in across the state line and takes me over a half an hour to get her to.  Driving home during scouts results in me constantly driving so I decided by golly, I was going to find somewhere and get some blogging done!  It would be great!  I found a cute, quirky coffee shop, and again, decided it would be best to buy something. 

This time I was prepared.  I ordered just a small cup of coffee.  That should be harmless enough, right?  Except the darn thing was $3.  Again I had to do the shame walk with my cup of coffee.

I've started feeling like an old man that complains constantly about the cost of a cup of coffee.  Martin. I've become Martin from Frasier. 

The rest of the week went fairly smoothly.  The only other thing we spent money on was dinner Friday night.  We were supposed to go out with our neighbors last year and we could never make it work.  Finally we were all available and we didn't want to let our no-spend challenge get in our way. 

So we all decided to go to a restaurant that was participating in "Restaurant Week"  an event near us where certain restaurants offer reduced pricing on their meals.  Nick and I were able to get appetizer, dessert, and entrees for the 2 of us for $33!  It was a really good meal!  We ate at the Lasalle Kitchen and Tavern.  If you are ever in South Bend you should drive over and check it out...really good food and a really fun atmosphere with live music at the bar. 

Saturday we had fun going to visit Nick's grandma and then we drove onto a chili-cookoff for Emma's scout troop.  We had a wonderful (and cheap!) day visiting with friends and family. 

All in all it was a great week although I totally messed up with the coffee shop purchases. 

However I have used those as some jumping off points to change my behavior. 

After all, if my house had been clean and tidy I would have had no problem having my friend over to talk and I wouldn't have spent anything at all. 

So as a result of that I moved some things around so we could skip school for this week and I am deep cleaning our house.  Together as a family we are purging so we have less stuff to put away and maintain.  By the end of the week I am hopeful we will have a place for everything and everything in its place. 

I've also learned that I need to have a go-to drink to order when I go to a coffee shop.  I would love your suggestions!!!  I love coffee, tea, anything.  It just needs to be inexpensive so I feel at least a little bit better about buying a want item.  I do have to visit coffee shops as I am on a lot of committee's and part of groups that meet at coffee shops. 

Please help me with what do order!  Comment with your suggestions!  I'd love for you to help me out!

Coffee Shop Work Sessions are wreaking havoc on my no-spend challenge.  What do you order to save money?