Thursday, June 26, 2008

Savings and more Spectacularness

I've had several people ask more about couponing and CVS-ing, so I'm going to do a break-down of the deal I did this week. Here's what I got for $6.38:

(mega pack Pampers, Cascade dish soap, Colgate toothpaste)

Here's how I did it:

When you get a CVS card and use it during your deals, you periodically get print-outs on your receipts with coupons, as well as periodic e-mail coupons. I also check a blog at a glance ( every day or two because she is a CVS lover and posts their deals, coupons that are available that can make deals work better, etc. Keeping the coupons and print-outs in mind that I've searched for, this is a list of coupons I used.

1. $4/$20 coupon (this is a CVS coupon that means it takes $4 off a $20 purchase) - generally these are found floating around on-line, or print off of your receipt...see blog above.
2. $1.50 off Pampers (got this coupon in the mail, but you can find them a lot in the Sunday edition of the newspaper, too)
3. $1.50 off Colgate whitening toothpaste (got this from the moneysavingmom blog also, which provided a link to the coupon on-line that I printed off my computer)
4. $6.99 ECB (Extra Care Bucks that I earned from buying certain items last week)

So I started with a total of right around $20, but then used all of the above and ended with $6.38, PLUS (here's where it gets sweet), I received $5 in ECB back ($3 from the diapers, $2 from the toothpaste), which I will be able to use next time, PLUS in my Pampers package, there was a $1.50 coupon off one box of Cheerios, which totally rocks because we eat those like nobody's business. So essentially with the ECB, it's like I spent $1.38, with a coupon for cereal :)

I was a bit skeptical about CVS-ing when I first started, but the truth is, it totally works. I allot myself $10 or less each week to spend at CVS, buying mostly paper products, snack foods, diapers, cleaning products, and toiletries that we need. Then, I use coupons clipped from the paper and found online to buy the remaining $40 of my groceries (usually at Wal-mart, sometimes at Kroger if my coupons line up well with deals they're having). I plan my menu for the week of cooking for our family around both the coupons I have and recipes we like.

I was NOT a coupon clipper until this March, about 3 months ago, and I totally didn't believe it helped, but especially with how sweet CVS works, plus grocery shopping weeks like the one I'm about to have tomorrow (I have $10 worth of coupons I'll be using for things we need), it really does add up and make a HUGE difference. I've been at it for 3 months now, and I still spend just $50 a week, including all of my baby supplies (diapers, wipes, etc.) and including my CVS trip.

And one final tip for those of you who have been inquiring and are truly interested, I also recommend the coupon links on my blog for signing up for freebies. You go to different websites and give them your name, address, and b-day, and they mail you free samples and freebies of things. Here's a list of things we've gotten so far:
diapers, wipes, potty training DVD, Rand McNally Atlas, laundry detergent, paper towels, cereal, granola bars, coupons for diapers, stain remover, tampons, Tylenol, and several others I've forgotten. You wouldn't think samples would make much of a difference either, but again, it all adds up.
(You also have to give your e-mail most times, but I've set up a separate e-mail account for ALL of my couponing and money saving stuff, and it keeps my regular inbox from being cluttered or annoying).

And now for my wall of pictures (from our Summer Spectacular decorating!):

Whew, that's all for now, my friends!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Season passes

Can I just say that NRH2O is the best thing that's ever happened to me and my little buddy?!

We played hard and crazy in that water for about 2 hours, with a break for lunch. From there, my Benito fell asleep on the way home, which he NEVER does, and he has currently been sleeping for FOUR HOURS which is an absolute record for him. My house is clean, my feet are rested, and dinner is in the making. All of this, plus a day of fun in the sun for him. F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C. There will be season passes in heaven.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Spectacular Summer

Since it's been a while this will be a hodge-podge blog with lots of random stuff and some questions/requests for advice.

1. SUMMER SPECTACULAR -- my team and I are FINALLY finished with our decorations for this crazy big VBS for our church, which happens this Monday-Wednesday (June 16-18th). It's going go be an amazing production with great classes, awesome gifts and prizes for the kiddos each night, a rockin' free t-shirt, and an actual broadway-style show, three nights in a row. The theme this year is Jonah. It's all free and fun for the family. Not sure on the times specifically, but you can go to and find the info there. And if you go, make sure to check out all the upstairs hallways - that's been my baby, my big project for weeks now, and our team did a rockin' job - I think the kiddos are gonna LOVE it. And because I'm done with all of this awesomeness, I should be around a bit more and able to actually be a friend to all my friends :) I'll post pictures of the upstairs fantabulousness soon.

2. SUMMER PLANS -- I've decided to get me and Benito season passes to the water park, for several reasons: a) my little buddy is free this year so I only have to buy one pass b) it's just me and him this summer, and I'm not positive that'll be the case for a super long time more c) Bennett LOVES the water and so do I, and they have a rockin' awesome baby/little kids area d) several of my friends have passes and will be going with their munchkins all summer long.
All that being said, is there a certain day any of you guys go? Do you go more than one day a week? What times seem to be best? Do you pack a cooler and do you get a locker?
Michael and I will be celebrating our 5th anniversary this August and are going on an amazing trip to New York City for a few days at the end of that month. I am SO excited because I've never been to NYC and have ALWAYS wanted to go, and ESPECIALLY because we're going to see PHANTOM and WICKED on Broadway!! AHHHHH! I could just die of excitement and happiness. SOOO cool. We haven't been on a trip in a long time, and this will be a nice marker of time and work and renewal of things...

3. FRIENDS -- I am very excited because I've long been praying for more Christian women as friends, especially married women with children and in the same phase of life as me...I feel like God has been steadily and faithfully answering these prayers. Being with other women and having "playdates" and just hanging out is such a blessing to me - I've always been a social person and I need the I just like to have fun with other silly, ridiculous people :) So to you guys out there who have sought me out, just know that you are a GREAT blessing to me and I am very excited about continuing to get to know you better.

4. SEASONS -- I think we've all heard the analogies/comparisons of life to a roller coaster, or the seasons, or a box of chocolates...I tend to relate to the seasons the most. Some of you don't know, and many of you may not know why, but there was a very long, very intense period of winter in my life for about a year, and really more than that if I'm being completely honest. During this time, I now recognize that due to my circumstances and situation, I was dealing with mild depression, increasing social anxiety, self-doubt, and insecurities that became almost crippling emotionally. I say this to say that God is SO very faithful and also that He is a God who answers prayers. I consider my situation to have been quite serious, and here I am, in what I would call a late spring, where things have been blooming and thriving, growing and increasing for several months now, almost ready to plod into a healthy, steady, summer of stability and beauty. I know I have many friends out there that read this blog, and many more lurkers :) so I wanted to give you all an update and let you know that things are better now than they've ever been, which is thrilling and exciting, and leaves me anticipating what lies around the bend. Amazing how God delights and takes joy in going above and beyond our imaginations, isn't it?

5. BENNETT -- He turned 18 months old about a week ago, and in all the madness, I wasn't able to post anything. Soon I'll be attempting (again) to post a video, but for now I'll follow suit of what others have done and list some things (humor me, and if you're not family, you might just want to skip this part because you probably won't care) he's up to and can do right now.
Words: hi, bye-bye, got the ball, bird, dog, no, yes, yeah-yeah!, night-night, touch it, there, this, juice, cheese, banana, please, hungry, whoa, thanks, book, outside, bubbles, Mama, Daddy, Joseph (his uncle), eye, sweet, throw, spin, duck, up, down, go, and a few more that I can't for the life of me remember right now.
Letters he can name and sound: Ss, Oo, Tt, Hh, Gg
Body parts he points to: hair, ears, eyes, nose, mouth, cheek, hands, tummy, feet, toes
Funny things: He has a slight obsession with peoples' feet. He goes "Aww, sweet!" and then lays down on them or kisses's pretty darn cute right now...I confess I hope he grows out of it eventually :); we play the "knock-knock game" on our doors. He stands on one side of a closed door and I stand on the other and we take turns knocking to each other. Every now and then I'll open the door and say "Hi!", which Bennett thinks is HILARIOUS.; He's a social butterfly. He says hi to just about everyone, but especially young, pretty women, and old, white-haired women.; He doesn't like messes. If something drops on the floor or spills, it really bothers him and he wants it picked up and put back where it belongs.; We've recently started writing on his erasing write pad that Aunt Rachel gave him for Christmas, and I was amazed to discover that he holds the little pen CORRECTLY rather than with a fisted grip. (when I discuss Bennett's "accomplishments" with my family, they say, that's great, but can he wipe his rear-end?...there's a REALLY funny story that accompanies this comment and explains it, dealing with a kindergarten student I once taught, who was accomplished at many many skills...apart from ones pertaining to the potty - ask me sometime when you need a laugh, or at least a really big smile).

Michael and I have started doing a quiet time with Bennett every night where we read a story from his bible (thanks, Mindy!!) and then pray for him and our family. It's SO sweet because after a few days of doing this, he sits there quietly, listening to daddy read, looking at the pictures, and pointing at things he recognizes, and then when we pray, he sits quietly, watching me and daddy, and then after we say Amen, he giggles and claps his hands and says "Yeah!" It's a precious thing to watch, and so exciting to know that seeds are being planted early. Any advice anyone has on continuing this and expanding, or adapting this as your child grows would be greatly appreciated, especially the praying together part.

That's about it for the latest updates here. This has become the world's next great novel (minus the great, perhaps), so I'll sign off now.