Monday, March 28, 2011

CVS Trip 3/1/11

Getting pretty good at this "game"...but I know I have so much more to learn. Here is a picture of my trip from a few weeks ago...(getting better with coupons, still along way to go with blogging!!!)

Today I had 5 8 minates at the not too bad....and I let someone behind me go ahead (this keeps other cutomers and the cashier happy...good gaming ettiquette).

  • Transaction #1 - saved $1.35, OOP (out of pocket) - $5.77 
  • Transaction #2 - saved $6.15, OOP - $1.06
  • Transaction #3 - saved $22.57, OOP - $25.13
  • Transaction #4 - saved $21.37, OOP - $8.93
  • Transaction #5 - saved $10.05, OOP - $0.89
I am only buying things that I would normally buy, that have Extra Bucks attached so that I can roll then to the next transaction. I did match up some coupons from the past few Sunday's papers. I don't have a printer, so I don't use printable coupons. So, that being said I might have been able to do better...but my goal is to save money...not necessarily get all the EB (Extra Bucks) in the store.

I did scan for coupons at the CVS coupon machine...none would have helped me on this trip so I am putting them into the coupon envelope for possible use later.

I have found that, my hubby goes through about 5 2 liters in a week, we use 9 rolls of the good toliet paper in about 25 days...which will make planning easier for future trips...I want to save money remember!?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stormy Times

True southern weather...two weeks ago so much snow we can't function...then a week of really nice spring weather...then up at midnight running to the basement to take cover from a possible tornado...just to wake up to much cooler weather, and a downed tree...

Here's how it happened...

We had a long night at the dance studio with pictures. We get home. I get the girls to bed really easy (should have known). I put a few things away, and head to bed myself. It was a windy night, but on our hill...this is not uncommon.

Dear hubby has been having some troubles sleeping lately....first a stomach virus, then a he was up watching some tv. The winds REALLY started to pick up, so he checked the local news...and sure enough our area was under a Tornado Warning.

Hubby comes and wakes me up, fills me in on the weather. I go into "Get Ready for a Tornado Mode". Let me mention here that I DO. NOT. LIKE. STORMS...I am overcome with so much fear I cannot calm myself...I shake and my heart beats so bad I think it is going to burst...every storm, every time.

Here is "Get Ready for a Tornado":
  • Panic, breathe, put on shoes
  • Panic, breathe, get Gator's milk and diapers and place next to basement door
  • Panic, breathe, get coat on
  • Panic, breathe, get Gator's car seat (sometimes she is easy to contain during a storm if she's buckled in...and in my mind she is safer!)
  • Panic, breathe, get shoes for the girls and place in box with diapers and milk
  • Panic, breathe, get pillows and blankets off my bed and place by basement door
  • Panic, breathe, check the local news
As soon as Mr. Weather Man says, about a minute until the possible tornado is in my small town...Hubby decides to get the girls. In seconds, we are all in the basement..with the dogs who are sooooo happy to see the girls....with the girls who are bewildered to be out of bed (I mentioned it was midnight right??) and in no mood to play with the dogs!

We sit and wait and listen. Man do I hate those moments....the winds whipping around the house...bangs and bumps of unknown origin...the waiting to hear the house fall in on heart beating so hard in my ears...I try not to listen....I sit and rock Baby Girl....praying over and over...Please, Lord, keep us safe...

and until last night I never realized that I have always said "keep us safe". I don't pray that the storm leaves us with an untouched home or anything like that...I just want to get through the storm as safe as possible....another personal Whoa moment.

So, the winds subside, the satellite service is back, and Mr. Weather Man is telling us that it is safe to return the girls to bed. Which was way easier than I thought it would be...Baby Girl just wanted to know why we got her out of bed. (I just told her that the Weather Man said it was safer in the basement...I try not to transfer my fears to the girls)

We get the girls snuggled back into bed, I close my eyes...and then I jump out of bed!! Around 3 am, the worst noise I have ever heard in my life threw me from my bed...CHAINSAWS! Apparently a very large tree had fallen during the storm and was blocking the street...I am glad that the town or county or whoever felt so good that they wanted to be sure that everyone could get to work and school....but really? 3 am?? and this tree fell, blocking the road, right in front of our sounded as if they were cutting the tree in my bedroom!

ok, so it doesn't look as big in the picture...I zoomed in and left off the top...but this tree is large!

My prayer quickly changed to..."Please don't let Gator wake up, please don't let Gator wake up"

She didn't wake up and they soon finished, and quiet returned to our little home...and I fell asleep, not to wake until the usual morning Gator wake up call.

What Stormy Times have you been going through?

I Got a Comment!

Yeah!! I am official! I had a comment ( a few weeks ago) from someone I know only from the blog world...that is sooooooo exciting! And people said I would be bored after I stopped working outside the home (But really when have I done that???)

I wish I could explain this feeling...

People want to read what I say and seemed to enjoy what they read...I am making an impact on people's, that's a lot of responsibility....but still its fun!

Not only did I get a comment, but she left more info on Yummy Yogurt tips...that I found helpful...this is great!

So, when you get a chance swing on over to Simply CVS and check it out...

I can't believe I waited so long to jump into all of this...blogging, home schooling (well, still in limbo) if only I could get a little better at time management and money management then I would be really great!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I am so Glad I Began CVSing When I Did!

The second week of CVS sales and ECB deals were way more confusing to me than the first week! If I had started this week I think I may have become a bit discouraged. I had a good time saving on milk and diapers my first week playing this game. I am going to be studying and looking and figuring so that I can LOVE CVSing this week too!

(Be sure to check out the new button on the side of my blog if you think you may want to start or continue CVSing as well...)

I studied, I asked, and I am in love!! I have a small stockpile of toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, and body wash. I am still using all my Extra Care Bucks at the end of my trip, so I haven't mastered the whole rolling Bucks from week to week....but I am still getting things we use, for less than I would have if I bought them as I needed them. Bringing home over 40 items for under $40 is an amazing feeling...especially when milk, diapers, and allergy medicine are among the item I bring home!

I had someone say to me that they don't play the Drugstore Game because the drugstores do not have things that they use. Ok, I thought this, too. In the beginning. Until I took some time, sat down with the paper, and looked. I don't wear a lot of when there is an Extra Buck deal with make up, I just turn the page! But I use toilet paper, and can I just say that I have noticed that the name brand (bought on sale, with a coupon, and earned Extra Care Bucks) has lasted a lot longer than the cheap-o toilet paper that I use to buy when we were desperate?!

My challenge to you...locate a drug store near your house...scan their sale paper, grab some coupons, check out the internet...and jump in. Why spend more on anything than you have to??? I think you will be surprised at what you have been missing! I have name brand items in my house! Who knew?!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Evolution of Cooking

Living with my parents
  • browning the hamburger meat for mom
  • complaining "not that again"
Living in the dorm
  • swiping a food card in the Cafeteria
  • swiping a credit card at a Restaurant
Living in an apartment off campus
  • swiping a food card in the Cafeteria
  • Microwave
Living in an apartment post college
  • calling Mom to figure how to make more than things that come in a box
  • going to Mom's for supper
Living as Husband and Wife 1st year
  • call Mom for more recipes, buy cookbooks
  • give up and head to the restaurant or Mom's
Living as Husband and Wife with Kids
  • anything that cooks in less time than a meltdown can occur
  • checking labels and prices, trying to get the healthiest for the cheapest amount of money
  • Calling Mom with the latest successful meal to share the recipe with her
  • hearing "Not that again!"
What was your evolution like???

Monday, March 21, 2011

CVS Tips

  • CVS has a coupon machine near the door...scan your card and a coupon will printout. I received a $5 off $25 purchase...which I will save (at least until 3/8/11, when it expires). What I was not aware of at the can keep scanning your card until the screen says that you have gotten all your coupons...DOH! I will return and keep scanning...hopefully I can get even more savings next week!
  • One of coupons I got from the machine was a $1.00 Kellogg's cereal. I will use cereal as a snack at times...and CVS has cereal single servings for $1.00. Guess what I did!? I used the coupons to get some single serve cereals for the girls...for free! What a great idea! Use the large coupons that do not specify a size and get the smaller/cheaper size for MORE savings...who knew! I am always looking for more ways to save...and Baby Girl likes the "treat".
  • Coke was on sale 3/$3...for 2 liters...and if you spent $15 you got back $5 ECB...I couldn't decide how to make $15 with the items that were included...until I saw someone say that they were going to get 15 2 liters. At first, I was "what??? 15 2 liters? That is insane!" But second thought, we drink Coke and we pay more than $ why not stock up? I stock up on milk, why not? Savings are savings!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What Does Gator do all Day?

I have been looking over some of my posts and they seem very Baby Girl oriented...and I was sad as a Mama...what about Gator???

Well, Gator starts her day between 5am and 7am...I do my best to try to get her to "rest" until 8am, but that is a rare occurrence.

Then she will eat breakfast...a couple eggs, or oatmeal, or a bunch of pancakes (she LOVES pancakes...I try to hide fruit and other good for you stuff in the pancake when I can)...she will then mess around the house and play area for a bit...climbing what she can, waking up sister, getting into the bathroom...the normal 13 month old stuff.

Then between 9am and 10am I'll put her in her bed and she will take a nap...anywhere from 15 min to 2 1/2 hours....she really is very UNpredictable...

After her long nap she will have lunch...then she will play more with her sister...I try to have out a different basket of toys so she can empty the bag or basket...she really likes to empty things...

Then it is usually time for us to get ready for whatever afternoon, outside the house activity we have going on...Mama works 3 days, we have dance classes, we run errands, or we go visit Mimi.

and that my friends is a day in the life of Gator....

when we get home from our activity...Gator fusses until supper, then she will eat supper...then we let her play with Daddy for a bit...

Then its change, get ready for bed, and off she dreamland...unfortunately for Gator or me depending on how you look at it...that only means a few hours until we have to settle her back down, repeat process every few hours until I give in at 7 or 8am and let her up to begin the day again.

During her play times, I do try to get down with her and read and play and focus some one on one time with her...mostly she likes to fuss or ride my hip...or climb the dishwasher...or the chairs, or her sister....we should have called her Monkey...not Gator!!! Maybe I will fill you in one day on how that did come about!!! Its funny and it really fits her!!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Cookie Cutters aren't Just for Cookies!

I got a 101 cookie cutter set for Christmas a few years ago...with high expectations...I was going to bake cookies, make crafts, cut know the basic Super Mom stuff...

I haven't used them yet...until...

We had grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch while doing the letter Rr and I used the "R" cutter to change Baby Girl's sandwich into a letter "R". Which of course, threw Baby Girl for a loop. I cut sandwiches two ways, squares or triangles, nothing more, nothing less.

While working on letter Pp, I had Baby Girl separate the cutters into Piles...shapes, letters, and numbers (which in itself is a bit challenging for Baby Girl...she uses the words "numbers" and "letters" interchangeably).

Once she had the piles, I had her separate them into color, size, line the numbers up in order, the letters in order...

Who don't have to raid the nearest store of all the educational toys....just go look for ideas and then go home and look at what you already have...many ideas are hiding in the cabinet!!!

By the way, one of Gator's favorite toys are the empty yogurt, butter, sour cream, and other plastic tubs that I keep in one cabinet that she can open. She'll open the cabinet, pull out all the plastic with them in the floor...and the latest...just sit in the cabinet.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Math Skills

Baby Girl got math flash cards for Christmas. Addition and Subtraction. She has been eager to get them out and play with them. Not sure how she would understand them, I was a little concerned with her frustration level. We began with her just reading the numbers. She knew there was more to it, so she was quickly asking what else you are supposed to do with them.

So, a few weeks later, I had her sit on the floor and use her blocks to count out each number and add them together. What made things fianlly "Click" for her though was counting it out with her fingers...the fingers, not the blocks, who knew! I haven't seen her pull out the cards lately, but when she goes back to them, I'll try some other counters...maybe beads and string...let her string the math together!! No rush, she's not even 4, so I am just laying the her speed!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

CVS Winnings!!

I was getting ready to start playing the Drug Store Game...

I did my research...

I read the "rules"...
I picked CVS as my drug store of choice. (The main reason was that I have one close by, and another reason was it seemed like I understood their program the best, their website answers a lot of questions)

I armed myself with my reusable bags (You can purchase a "Green Tag" that they will scan for you on each trip and on the 4th trip you get $1 in Extra Bucks), my sale flyer, and my price notebook (I have been keeping a running list of the price of the items I purchase the most...and where I purchased it...that way I can keep up with what is a good deal and what is not on any sales I may come across in my shopping).

I enter CVS and fill out the form for a CVS rewards card..and I hit the aisles.

I purchased:
  • pack of diapers - on sale for $8.99 with $2 extra bucks
  • small pack of Mini Cadbury Eggs - on sale for $0.75 with $0.75 extra bucks
  • I planned to get the Colgate toothpaste, but it was out so I got a raincheck for 2...they were on sale for $2.99 with $2.00 extra bucks....the raincheck doesn't expire!!
  • I also got 2 cans of Tuna for $0.88 each.
I had no coupons this time so my total was around $13.00 and I had $2.75 in Extra Bucks

My 2nd transaction was:
  • 1 gallon Barber's Milk on sale for $3.19 minus my Extra Bucks from the previous transaction.
Now, if you are new to this, please remain seated... I got my gallon of milk for $0.70 TAX INCLUDED!!!!

I am sold and I will be eagerly waiting for next weeks sale paper. I know there are folks out there that get as many Extra Bucks as they can find, on as many items as possible, and whatnot...but I am happy with my 1st trip and I am happy with the diapers and milk for under $15 the other odds and ends...let me know about your trip to the store???

Monday, March 7, 2011

Playtime at Our House

For all the folks who think I have been bragging about all the great and wonderful things going on over at our's a quick peak at more of the reality of our house. Don't do it, but if you look closely at all our pictures I have laundry piling up (clean or dirty...take your pick), clutter to put away, toys to be stepped over or on...and notice the girls are almost always in PJs...we may eat good and strive to spend zero money(though we are far from this goal...budgets are a constant battle), and I put a big focus on educational toys...I am just a normal person, who is a mom. I hate cleaning, getting up early (though my kids do), and at the end of the day I have more left on the "To Do" list than crossed off.
 An empty laundry basket became a fun toy for a long time.

Playing with Gator's clock.

Teaching Gator how to take care of the baby.

Gator's favorite thing to do, empty things.

Baby Girl loves to color, but we have to do that up high, out of Gator's reach.

So, there you have a glimpse into the daily happenings around here! Next time Baby Girl stomps off because I said no or Gator screams because she can and is refusing to sleep...I will try to remember to grab the camera...those moments happen here too!

Have a great day!

Friday, March 4, 2011

March Sensory Bin

My first month using the sensory bin idea has been a success. My we have come a long way from the tub on the head picture from the first use!

Baby Girl is showing you how she lined up and counted the red stars! (There were 10, by the way)

I mentioned the other day, to Baby Girl, that I would be changing the bin to a March theme soon. Baby Girl was not happy about it...I am sure she will change her tune after I make the switch, but it was nice to know that she enjoyed the imagination bin, as she called it. I loved that a box of random items got a lot of play time...and it seemed like every time the girls would dig into it, they did something different with the items....Gator really enjoyed the bead garland...and Baby Girl liked the flower petals...I also enjoyed that they seemed to play together and get a long nicely together with the same group of items and it worked for both developmental stages...I am so glad I came across the idea over at Totally Tots!!

So, now it is onto our March of course!

I basically went around the house and grabbed what I already had on hand that was green....some blocks, rings, flower pots, scrap material, and a few things I picked up at the Dollar store when Christmas stuff was on sale for 90% off. I will place it out and see how it goes. My prediction - Baby Girl will be confused about where did the pink and red stuff go? She is very opposed to change...we are working on this.

Hop on over to Totally Tots for other bin ideas and themes. Right now I am staying very basic and going with what I have on hand. I am looking at the "random items" on clearance racks a little differently nowadays....I am in no way wanting to spend any major bucks on any items right now. Money was tight before the latest gas hikes...but I don't want to let these days at home get too ho-hum either.

Just by putting some random objects in a plastic tub, my girls have looked at the items in a new way, and "forcing" them to get creative. Baby Girl likes to know what she is "supposed" to do...the rules of the game and what rules with the bins are as follows:
  1. You may do whatever you would like with the items in the long as it is safe. (i.e. no wrapping garland around Gator's neck)
  2. You may play with the bin as long or as short as you'd like
  3. When you are finished playing ready to play with something else, you must put all items back into the bin (yes, I changed "finished" because anyone who knows a preschooler...they are never finished with a toy, they will be back, and it is still a struggle work in progress)
  4. You may play with the bin whenever you'd like as long as the rules are followed
I know, for not having many rules about the bin, I sure have a lot of rules!! Ah, aren't you glad you don't have such a wishy-washy mama??

Any great ideas on how you spice up the toys and such that you already have on hand so that your kids play with them?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pp is for Peace

Well, we've moved on over to the letter Pp. We have already had a picnic in the yard, we've done puzzles, made our Pp prayer lists, and thought about our projects.

We plan to make Peanutty Banana Bread for Mr. Paul, wrap a pretty present of popcorn for Mrs. Paula...

Other Pp activities we will try to get to

  • Lacing letter Pp (as long as I get to the Dollar Tree to get the letters I want)
  • Push Pin letter Pp (Baby Girl seems to like filling the letters with construction paper better)

  • Make a Puzzle out of one of Baby Girl's drawings
  • Trace Patterns
  • Read If You Give a Pig A pancake
  • Make Pencil Pals
  • Talk about Patient and Peace
  • Work on Pattern using a Muffin Pan
  • Hidden P color sheet
  • Piles

  • Make Pretty Place mats
  • Make a paper orchard
  • Make Puppets
  • Make a Pillow "pet"
  • make a Picture Frame
I a list!!! I may or may not get to it all. But you make your goals...right? Some days Baby Girl wants activity after activity. Other days, she sticks with one and doesn't care to move on. Some of the activities depend on whether I will be able to get to the prep work.

I do a lot of the "worksheet" stuff myself...I find printables on line and then copy them by hand....I don't have a printer at home and its just a bunch cheaper than going to my parents house to print.

I'll let you know what we get to and how it turned out!!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Coupon Game

For the past 2 years I have been mainly shopping at Wal-store....due to being pregnant and tired I stuck with one store. Then having an infant drinking formula and wearing diapers that I found at a cheaper price by going with the store brand...I didn't want to look at store fliers and do much price comparing from store to store...Now I did compare prices from store to store when Baby Girl was a baby (and even before children). Baby Girl was a better shopper that Gator...going to more than one store during a shopping trip was not near the pain that I think it may be now...

I have been studying the rules for the Drug Store Game...and I think now that formula is off our grocery list, I am going to jump back onto the coupon bandwagon....In my studying I have found this is really good...lots and lots of great ideas...remember start small. Her website and blog is amazing, but I feel small compared to all the information that she has there.

I have decided to start with CVS...some of the reasons being is that it is the only drug store less than 30 miles from our house. I have read the flyer this week, and I have made my list, I will look for coupons in the Sunday Paper, and I will be ready to hit the store. Right now, without coupons, I am looking at getting about $16 worth of items...including diapers...and earning back about $8 in Extra Bucks...I am excited just thinking about it!

Then step two will be to take those Extra Bucks and get some more items on sale...I can't wait. I have heard the best way to start this coupon thing is to
  1. Pick one grocery store and one drug store
  2. stick with it for about 3 months before deciding if it is for you
  3. make a system work for you, not the other way....envelopes, know you best
Well, I am off to find some coupons and start this adventure...

Let me know, do you play the game? How do you play? Got any extra tips for others?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Popsicles and Gator

I bought some Popsicles a few weeks ago when Baby Girl was feeling under the weather. I never got around to letting her have any of them back then. Lately, she has been having one a night after supper as "bessert" (dessert)...good thing I got the ones made with real fruit juice.

Abby wanted the Popsicle from her I let her try it...oh my, how funny...she kept coming back for more...

Notice Gator in the background...upset because she wants the Popsicle!

"Hmmmm, cold....yummy?"

Fortunately for us, Baby Girl LOVES to share....sometimes to a fault....she will gladly share her Popsicles with Gator.

We did find out the other day that we shouldn't share suckers from the bank with Gator. Gator realized that she likes those too...and she figured out if she clamps her teeth shut on the stick, Baby Girl cannot get the sucker back. So, needless to say, we are trying to keep Popsicles and suckers out of Gator's sight for now. (I know, what a mean Mama I am....remember my kids eat really good for them food....treats are not really an option in the house....they only know healthy! My plan is to keep it that way for awhile.)