Tuesday, July 29, 2008

CVS Plan for July 27

Not sure how this week will go, but here are the things I'm checking out:
  • Schick Intuition Plus is on sale for $3.99. I have several coupons for BOGO, and several for $2/off Schick disposable razors. I'll have to visit my favorite cashier and see if she can make anything out of them! (No limit on
  • There's a freebie Revlon Limited Edition item this week, and I plan to use the $2/Revlon coupon from the 7/20 SS to make it a moneymaker (limit 1)
  • Band-aids are on sale for $2.99 and generating $2 ECBs (limit 1). I'll use a $1/off from the 6/15 SS to make it a freebie.
  • One-Touch Ultra Mini diabetes meters are on sale for $19.99 and there was a $20/off coupon in the 7/27 SS, making this another freebie. I have four coupons, and there are no limits on sales items, so this will make a great donation item this week!
I'm not getting the freebie Kodak DVD - I just don't have the time to work on it this week, and can't really see how we'd use it.

Did I miss anything good? Let me know!

What do you want to know?

I've had a bunch of requests for a "CVS how-to" guide so I'm putting one together. I'm trying to cover a lot of territory; you can help me by leaving a comment letting me know what questions you'd like answered. Thanks!

Monday, July 28, 2008

CVS recap - week of July 20 + Walgreens recap

I don't have my receipts anymore, and I didn't have the energy to compile everything for a super-fab photo, so this will have to suffice:

Total haul from CVS:

  • 7 Vive Pro conditioners (BOGO CVS deal + BOGO manufacturer coupon = sales tax only)
  • 5 Vive Pro shampoos (BOGO CVS deal + BOGO manufacturer coupon = sales tax only)
  • 2 packages Bic Soleil replacement blades ("Buy 2, get 5 ecbs back" + 2 4/off manu coupons = $1 net cost)
  • 1 CVS hand sanitizer (free with CRT)
  • 16 tubs baby wipes (on sale for $2, used $2/skincare coupon, all were free plus 10 ECBS (5 on each account)) - not all are in the photo since they're already in use!
Net cost for CVS: just under $2 (sales tax on the Vive Pro + $1 for the razor blades)


Walgreen haul:

I used the super-coupon method to get 27 packages of diapers, paying just $1.71 TOTAL in salex tax. I donated 10 of those packages to Bread for the City, along with 4 Vive Pro shampoos and 4 Vive Pro conditioners.

I don't have a photo of all the diapers together, but here's my stockpile in Nate's closet. Note the lack of clothes hanging in the closet - if a little girl ever lives here you bet they'll be filled up!

Bumper has surgery

Anyone who knows Nate knows Bumper.

Bumper started as his big, plush crib bumper. He grew attached to the fuzzy tassels that anchored it to the crib, and it became his "lovey." At some point I detached one from the crib for him to carry around the house with him, and carry it around he did.

I waited too long to acquire a second bumper to switch out for cleaning and repairs, so there is only One True Bumper and he's loving it to death.

First a small hole spread in the pillow part, and finally the pillow fell out and he dragged around the skin. Then the fabric started wearing away until all that was left was the zipper with the tassels attached to each end. Yesterday one of the tassels detached.

Surgery this morning went well. My clumsy stitches should keep it attached for another long while, and I see no reason why a repeat surgery shouldn't work if needed.

We love you, Bumper.

Last week's meal plan

Yummy stuff last week.

I made a simple dinner of the yellow and red tomatoes, and basil, from the garden paired with fresh mozzarella, some diced onions, balsamic vinegar, and a bit of olive oil. We ate it with homemade bread. This was truly why I planted tomatoes and basil. Mmmmm.

Big Salad night is a favorite in our house and it's usually vegan. It always involves romaine lettuce, canned beans, diced onions, and mandarin oranges; the rest depends on what we have on hand. This week we had green peppers, canned corn, and walnuts. Nate prefers his without dressing:

Lastly, I re-made Curried Couscous with Broccoli and Feta. I skip the feta in this recipe - I think the flavor is just too overwhelming, which makes it another vegan meal. It's truly fabulous and easy; I double the portion for lunches and dinner the next day, too.

This week will be a short one due to our upcoming vacation. We'll probably do a lot of eating out of the fridge, getting rid of the perishables. Maybe I can come up with something creative...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Target sweep

Two fun deals at Target today (sorry for the lousy photo!)

I'd read that the Pond's clean sweep towelettes have a sticker for a free movie ticket to Mamma Mia (or another Universal Pictures release). The towelettes cost $6.50, and obviously a movie ticket's more than that - they're $9 or $10 around here. Plus I had four $1.50/coupons.


4 packages of Ponds towelettes - $26
minus 4 $1.50/coupons - $20
minus value of 4 movie tickets (at $9 each) - earned about $16 on this deal, plus I have the towelettes!

I used the Target store coupons from A Full Cup for the Pamper's deal. Neither item was on sale, so this is a deal anyone can take advantage of at any time (except for the $1 and $.20 manufacturer coupons).

Four Jumbo packages of Pampers (10.99 each) - $43.96
Four packages of Pampers wipes (6.59 each) - $26.36
Total - $70.32

Minus 4 $5/both Target coupons - $50.32
Minus 4 $3/both Target coupons - $38.32
Minus 4 "Get a $5 Target giftcard with the purchase of both" coupons - $18.32
Minus 4 $.20/wipes manufacturer coupons - $17.52
Minus 4 $1/Pampers manufacturer coupons - $13.52

Net cost with sales tax: $14.75

I expect to be able to sell the Pampers wipes on eBay for at least $15, which makes this a moneymaker. I already have all the wipes I can use from the freebies at CVS, and it was really only the diapers I was after. So, another free diaper day! I'm going back tomorrow. :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Truly free baby stuff this week

Between CVS & Walgreens, Moms are rejoicing this week.

Looks like the $2/CVS skincare coupon has been pulled offline. I'm not sure what happened, but if you already have some printed out you can use them. I luckily printed out a bunch, and I'm using the heck out of them this week.

CVS is doing a "spend $15 on CVS baby supplies, get 5 ECBs back" deal. The baby wipes are on sale 2/$4, and at my CVS the skincare coupon works just fine on it. So last night I got eight and checked out one-by-one, using the skincare coupon on each. They were entirely free (no sales tax) and after I bought the last one 5 ECBs printed out. Luckily I like the wipes, too! They're the cottony texture of the Huggies ones (I've never liked the thin Pampers ones). I'll be doing that deal on both of our cards this week, giving us 16 tubs of wipes.

I'm sure most of you have read about the Walgreens free diaper deal. Last time around, I couldn't find the prescription coupon book anywhere (and by anywhere I mean at the TWO Walgreens within 30 miles of my house.) I happened to check by the pharmacy last week at the one DC Walgreens and they DID have the booklet. I figured there wouldn't be a chance to use it, but got lucky and the diapers went on sale again this week (through Thursday).

I was in Rockville yesterday visiting my parents and hit their Walgreens for a test run. Got three packs that rang up right around $19. Used the pharmacy coupon first and it took $6 off the order, just like it was supposed to. Used the coupon from the Easysaver catalog and it took $7.50 off just like it was supposed to. I paid $5.20 with tax, and the coupon for $5 off my next order printed out just like it was supposed to. It was almost more confusing that it worked perfectly than it would have been if something had gone awry!

Needless to say, I hit the deal hard. I got 12 packages in Rockville and another 12 back here in DC. I'll probably go back once more and get a few more. I'm donating 6 to the shelter around the corner, and have enough for my boys for 3 months or so. Very happy.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Jack's Monthly Newsletter, Month Eight

Dear Jack,

There you were, charting your own slow course, chilling out, letting your brother be the go-getter. No teeth, no sitting up, no crawling. Doing things your own way.

Not anymore. In the blink of an eye, in the span of weeks, you're an entirely different baby. You're sitting up perfectly, reaching for toys and never tipping. You can go from sitting straight to crawling, and right back to sitting when you've gotten where you want to go. Within days of crawling, you were pulling yourself up to your knees and now you're pulling yourself up to standing. One tooth through, one right behind. A river of drool precedes them. I don't even know who you are anymore.

For about 4 days after you started with all of this, life got really sweet for me. I could plunk you in the living room surrounded by toys, and you'd occupy yourself for quite a while. You are so funny and deliberate sometimes: you'll pick up a toy, turn it over and over and around, and then give it a taste test before the earnest chewing and sucking begins. Anywhoo, so you'd sit and be quiet while I did fascinating things like clean up the table, empty the dishwasher, or clean cheerios off of the floor. It was nice.

But you've gotten too big for your britches, and you're all over the place now. Trying to throw yourself down the stairs, pull Daddy's bike down on your head, and bonk yourself on every available sharp corner and edge that can be found.

(What I especially like about this photo is all of the safe, fun toys are off to the side while you try to chew on (and do eventually crack yourself on) the edge of the entertainment center.) We've gotta babyproof better. Your brother was so active, but he was never into things the way you're already getting into things. You are rarely still. When you're sitting, your hands are moving, moving, moving. It's nearly impossible to get a shot that's not a little blurry. Please go easy on us, okay?

I adore you. You're a wonderful baby, other than the not-sleeping-through-the-night thing, which we won't go into right now. You are truly wonderful in the car - I can't think of the last time you cried. I just plunk you in with a bunch of chew toys and get such a kick out of watching you pick them up, examine them, and spend a little quality time chewing on them one by one. You smile constantly, laugh easily, and hug your little arms around my neck. You crane around to see Nate or Daddy when you hear them come into the room. I can't wait to see you dive into the rest of your life.


No-Knead Bread

I've been intrigued by this recipe for no-knead bread for a while and finally dove in several days ago. I'm using a variation from Cook's Illustrated which adds a little beer and vinegar to give it more flavor.

My first two tries were off. The first came out very, very flat. The second came out flat. Both versions had very thick crusts instead of the thin crispy one that the recipe works to achieve. After some though, I diagnosed the problem thusly: I had added additional flour after the long first rise because of how very wet the dough was, and I think by adding in the flour I had defeated the purpose of the long rise. Plus the new flour didn't have any time to take on the magic yeasty qualities. That's the technical term, by the way. Yeasty qualities.

This time, things went a lot better.

Instead of the 3 cups of flour, I started off with 3 1/4 so that I wouldn't have to add any additional after the first long rise. It was still a bit wetter than I think it should be, and I'm currently letting a 3 1/2 cup version rise tonight. But not having to add any additional flour meant that it got very little handling and it rose much higher than the previous versions. The crust was much thinner and crispier, and the interior had more bubbles and lightness. Stewart declared it "delicious." I was very proud of it and it's such an easy recipe to add to the repertoire. Definitely try it.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Check out this morning's harvest!

Nate got to eat the first cucumber with his lunch yesterday and I forgot to take a photo. Alas! A moment of our life undocumented!

Tonight's dinner will be those beautiful tomatoes combined with fresh mozzarella, basil from the garden, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. We'll also dine on the delicious bread I made this morning (which warrants a whole separate post. Stay tuned.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

More sleep blather

Jack's still not a great sleeper, but if I think about the course we've taken he's definitely much improved. Without much training on my part, he's given up the two nighttime feedings (12 and 4) in favor of one around 3. Since he goes down around 6:30, I think that's pretty darn good. A few times he has slept straight through 'til 5, but I think I've counted 7 times ever. Not great, but definitely progress.

I've stopped giving him his before-nap bottle in his room, which has made life much harder on us both. He used to drink into oblivion, I'd stick a paci in his mouth, and that'd be it. Now I feed him downstairs and then head up, stick a paci in, and that's just not it. He'll get drowsy, I'll put him down, and 5 minutes later he's warbling away. I'll let him go a while, then go in, stick in the paci, rock him until he's drowsy, and repeat. A whole bunch of times. I'm really doing my best to try to let him work it out himself, but he's not going lightly. Sometimes he ends up falling asleep, sometimes I end up taking him downstairs for more milk.

It's absolutely amazing how dedicated he is to falling asleep with milk in his mouth. Before I quit feeding him in his room there were times when I'd pick him back out, give him back his bottle, and literally take three sucks before wanting the paci back and heading off to nap. He just needs a little taste.

It doesn't help that he now says "ma, ma, ma" every time he seems me.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

How to get ANYTHING free at CVS

Here's how to get anything ($3 or under, this week only) free at CVS:

Get 12 Sally Hansen nail polishes (or 15, or 30, as long as you have enough coupons to cover it doesn't matter)
Get any item around $3 (I needed hair ties) - make sure the total is $15 or over

Use $3/15 CVS coupon
Use 4 $3/2 Sally Hansen nail polishes

Pay sales tax on everything!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Me and Nate

After a come-to-Jesus talk with my sister, I did some looking at my relationship with my loving, complicated Nate. I didn't like that our relationship was almost always a "teaching, guiding" one and rarely a fun one. I know I made a conscious choice to stop and play with him every day, to make sure to cook with him and do arts and crafts, but somehow it always turned into a discipline situation.

I do feel strongly about manners and rules and consequences. And Daddy is the fun one, so I think I was trying to be the manners police for the both of us. But my sister suggested I start picking my battles a little more carefully, and after some thinking I knew she was right.

I've made a really big effort, the past three weeks, to play more and teach less. When Stewart comes home, I sometimes hand him Jack and take Nate for a walk to get a treat. I'm holding my tongue in some of the smaller discipline areas, and making sure to put the laundry aside at least some of the times he wants me to play with him. Most importantly, I'm doing my best to anticipate the times that he's going to get upset and prickly, so that I don't get so frustrated when he acts out. I think it's all helping.

This morning, he wouldn't let Stewart get him out of bed - he only wanted me. And a few mornings ago he made Stewart bring him in to see me and cuddled up next to me in bed. He said "I love lying next to you!" Stewart met me today to pick Nate up from school together, and he was equally happy to see both of us. He hugged us each around one leg and said "Mommy, Daddy, Mommy, Daddy!"

What a joy this kid is.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Sorry I forgot to post earlier. I was distracted by the two gorgeous sons.



E-mail me your addresses and I'll send the coupons along. Leah at Qstreet . org

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Boy it's fun when it works!

I love it when a deal comes together just the way you want it to.

I hit CVS early this morning to make sure the cashiers weren't stressed with a lot of people in line behind me. I wanted to see how it would all work out. The cashier and I talked about whether to use 2 or 3 per coupon, and decided to try it with 3 (at $.99 each). He rang 3 through and then scanned the coupon. He seemed apologetic that the coupon would have to be adjusted down to $2.97. I was thrilled. I'm printing out some more $3/2 coupons tonight and clearing them out tomorrow.

I also got a free hand-sanitizer from a coupon that printed out on a previous receipt.

Merchandise total, including sales tax, before coupons: $16.64
Net cost after coupons: 85 cents. Wahoo!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

My first giveaway!

And it's a really, really small one.

I've got four extra $3/Kodak photo books that can be used on this week's 6 x 8 freebies at CVS.

Leave me a comment telling me how amazing I am, how prolific my garden is, and/or how gorgeous my sons are and I'll send you two. Two winners will be announced on Monday, around 6 pm.

CVS recap - week of July 5th

I bought some of this stuff before the new $3/15 coupon came out, and bought some items that didn't end up free because, gasp, I actually needed them! If I'd known to wait until the $3/15 was coming out, I'd have waited for this morning and gotten closer to free, but this is still pretty great. Oh, and I forgot to use one BOGO Sure coupon and paid full price for both. Drat.

Merchandise cost, including sales tax, before coupons: $131.93
Net merchandise cost: $11.22!!

I got:
  • 8 Pert Plus @ $2.50 each (weekly sale: used 4 $3/off coupons and 4 $2/coupons from the 6/29 SS)
  • 2 Playtex tampons 18 ct. (weekly deal: cost $4.99, gave $3 ECBs. Used $1/coupon from the 6/22 RP)
  • 4 CVS 5-ct tampons (July freebie)
  • 4 CVS pantiliners (July freebie)
  • 2 Dawn detergents (weekly deal: $2/2, gave $1 ECBs. Used 2 $.20/coupons from the 6/1 P&G)
  • 8 CVS facial wipes (monthly deal: $2.99, give $1 ECB. Used $2/skincare coupon)
  • 4 Powerades (not shown. weekly sale: BOGO @ $1.49, used 4 $.75/coupons from the 6/8 SS)
  • 2 packs Duracell batteries (weekly sale @ $2.99. Used 2 $1/coupon from the 6/29 SS)
  • 4 Sure deoderants (monthly deal: buy 2 @ $2.79, get 3 ECBs. Used 2 BOGO (to get both for free after ECBs) from the 6/29 SS)
  • 6 Olay Regenerist wipes, 1 Olay Definitity Mousse cleanser.
    • First transaction: 4 Regerist wipes @ $5.99 each. Used the new $3/15 and 4 $3/coupons from the 6/22 SS. Got 10 ECBs to earn one buck on this transaction.
    • Second transaction: 2 Regerist wipes @ $5.99 each, one Definity Mousse cleaners @ $8.99. Used the new $3/15, 2 $3/Regenerist wipes, and 1 $3/Definitey cleanser from the 7/6 P&G. Got 10 ECBs to earn one buck on this transaction.
This was a fun week. Looking forward to the free nail polish starting tomorrow!

CVS weekly deals - July 13th

Two great deals this week, and both are money-makers when you combine them with the new $3/$15 coupon.

First is that the Kodak Picture Books are totally free after ECBS - you can get two large ones (6 x 8, 10 page hardcover) - pay $7.99, get $7.99 back. Combine them with the $3/off coupon from the 6/8 SS, and use some filler to get yourself to $15 (or buy both in the same transaction), and these are true money makers.

For example:

Buy TWO 6 x 8 photo books: $15.98
First use the $3/15 coupon
Then use TWO $3/Kodak coupons
Get back $15.98 ECBs.

Net cost (without sales tax): EARN $9!!

The small Kodak book (4 x 6, 10 page hardcover) is also free after ECBs: Pay $3.99, get $3.99 back. The coupon doesn't work for this size, so you'll have to settle for free. Tough life, huh?

The other great deal is the Sally Hansen nail poish. It's on sale for $.99 each, and you can combine them with this $3 off any 2 nail polish coupon to get them for free. The "internet" seems to be mixed on whether you should get 3 nail polishes ($2.97) and then present a coupon to get all 3 for free (that's my inclination), or just get 2 nail polishes ($1.98) and they'll adjust the coupon down so they're still free. I'll try the deal out soon and report back on which one works better.

Have fun this week!

Finally, a new CVS coupon!

At last, a new $3/$15 CVS coupon, expiring July 20th. Came around just in time to help me with this week's CVS. I'll post details soon!


Friday, July 11, 2008

Milestones all over the place!

I've been good so far at fighting the second-child syndrome, but I've certainly let things slide a bit in the last few weeks. It's all his fault, frankly. If he'd let me sleep, I'd have enough brain power to do more than stare blankly at the wall when I'm done with the necessities of life. Anyhow.

In the past week, Jack has finally cut his first tooth (lower front left (his left)) and started crawling! It was very halting and ugly at first - maybe one knee, one hand, one knee, and fall to the belly. But this morning we put him on the floor and he made purposeful movement - across the room and back. Straight to my diaper bag. He's already into everything - in 5 minutes he managed to pull 7 different items out of my bag, give each a cursory chew, and throw each to the side in search of more tasty finds. Evidentially the plastic end of a tube of diaper-rash cream is the most delicious of them all.

The first time he really made movement on his own was two days ago, in our living room. I looked away for a minute and when I looked back this is what I saw:

In his own quiet way, I think Jack is going to be far more trouble than Nate ever was. He's been crawling for 2 days, and each time he crawl to something tall and starts to climb it (entertainment center, couch, whatever). If my bag is on the floor he pulls everything out that he can find. Nate was never still, but he was always sensible - he never ended up on the dining room table or climbed up our bookshelf or some other heart-stopping feat. Jack, my sweet one, my cuddly one, is going to be the one to turn my hair gray. I can just feel it.

It is neat to watch him climb, though, and wonder if he'll be 24 and off to climb Everest and I'll be telling my friends "You know, he was always like this. Right from the start he wanted to climb. He fell down, bonked himself, cried pitifully, and started right back up again. That's my Jack."

Hang up and call back

Interesting development.

My parents were incredibly generous and surprised us with a big new HDTV, which meant I had to upgrade my Dish Network service from regular to HD. I was already unhappy with Dish Network's "nickel and dime" mentality, and felt like I was paying too much monthly. I had called a few months ago to ask them to waive a few of the monthly charges but had only been successful in getting one knocked off.

Before calling, I checked their competitor's website (Direct TV) and found that they were offering similar service for a whole lot less (for 12 months). I called Direct TV but found out that although the monthly deal was good I wouldn't be able to get the same kind of DVR recorder that I have now, and we really like the features we have now.

Armed with that knowledge, I called Dish Network to find out my options. The first person I talked to told me that it's an additional $10/month for the HD service and it's $125 to get the new DVR installed. I asked about a charge on my bill that I thought shouldn't be there (a recurring $5/charge) and the person was entirely unhelpful. I thanked them, hung up, and called back again. The second person was more helpful and seemed genuinely puzzled about the charge, but wasn't able to get in touch with a supervisor to have them check it out.

After the boys went down for naps, I tried a third time. The woman I got seemed very rote at first, but warmed up as we went along. When she was puzzled about that same charge, I explained how frustrated I was getting with dealing with the little charges. She said she understood. After putting me on hold for a while, she came back and said she'd canceled that charge and refunded me for the last few months of it. I explained the sale that Direct TV was having, and asked if she coudl give me any consideration for being a long-time customer.

She put me on hold again, and then came back with this offer: waiving the $125 installation charge, and a 6-month hold on the $10/monthly fee for the HD service. We were very chatty at this point (she has 3 daughters: 9, 2, and 1), so I thanked her and asked if there was any way we could get a trial period on HBO; she laughed and threw in 3 months. Not bad for an extra 20 minutes of my time!

So here's my lesson learned: if you don't like the answers you get, politely hang up and try again. You'll "click" better with some people and those people have a whole lot of discretion. Being nice to her made her want to be nice to me. And if these are the biggest problems I have, I'm very very lucky.

Thanks Mom and Dad.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Giant Food, week of July 11th

Giant goes Friday to Thursday, so here's what I see. Obviously it doesn't include any matches for coupons that come out this weekend; I'll try to add those in on Sunday.


Cherries are FINALLY on sale! $1.99 / pound, limit 4 pounds. We love these and will be clearing them out, 4 pounds at a time.

Meat & Cheese:

Oscar Mayer hotdogs and bologna is on sale BOGO.


General Mills cereals are $2.99/each. Plenty of coupons from the Sunday papers apply!


7-Up, Canada Dry, A&W, and Sunkist 2-liters are $10/10. Regular or diet.
Coke 2-liters are 3/$4. I don't know if other Coke varieties are included.


Edy's ice cream is on sale $1.99 each, limit 4.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Garden update

Yesterday we got to eat our very first ripe tomatoes.

Worth every minute of work. I can't wait to eat 4,294 more.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Nate's Monthly Newsletter, Two Years Ten Months

Dear Nate,

I'll admit that it's hard to summon up the motivation to write this month, to try to figure out the right ways to tell you who you were at this very moment. Your Daddy-love has never waned, and these last few months have left me feeling very sad and removed from you. I've worked very hard to try to make sure you don't see it, and I truly hope I've succeeded.

If you're reading this in 20 years time, please know I didn't write this to make you feel bad or to rub it in. I've been trying to make this a real picture of our lives, and that's what part of our life is like right now. It's totally normal for a kid to prefer one parent, especially the same-sex parent, especially when that parent is at work all day and comes up the conquering hero. I get it, truly. Doesn't make it easy, but I get it.

It's bittersweet, because watching you I'm seeing you turn into this fantastic little boy who I hope I get to be friends with. You're starting to understand the jokes I make, and you're getting your own personality with language and songs. Yesterday I came into the living room and found you laying on your back playing harmonica. When you sing all of our kids songs, you like to really belt them out in a deep loud voice. Fun for us, not so much for the people nearby.

Your favorite phrases are "Oh, man" when something goes wrong and "I don't like that!" when we're making you turn the TV off or go to bed. You're taking charge of your language, and starting to use words in ways of your own - you really understand so much of it now. You've gone from asking "Where Bumper?" to "Where's my Bumper?" to, yesterday, "Daddy, do you know where Bumper is?" You were staying with Grandma the other day and she was setting you up to play in the sink. You kept asking "Where's my xxxx?" and Grandma just couldn't figure out what you were saying. After trying a few times to make her understand you paused and said "You know, I need to be higher. Where's my stool?" We love how patient you are with us.

We think you're old enough now that we're starting to give you "jobs" around the house. When we're leaving the house to head to the car, I try to always give you one light item that you're in charge of carrying. When you're done with your meal, you have to put your plate and cup on the counter in the kitchen. You're pretty compliant. This morning you finished your watermelon and headed into the living room to read your new Diego book. I saw you stop, look at your wet hands, and head into the kitchen to dry them off with the towel. Little man.

I have figured out a sneaky way to get some affection from you, and I'm sure it's everything the textbooks would tell me not to do. Sometimes I'm holding Jack and he'll give me a hug or a "kiss" on the side of my face, and I'll thank him out loud for the hugs and kisses. Competition gets the better of you, and you're compelled to give me a better hug and kiss. Fine with me. I only use my secret superpower every couple of weeks, I promise.

Jealousy of Jack is starting up a bit now that he's starting to get into your toys, and a bit of competition too. Even with that, you're still fantastically loving and supportive and kind to him and we're so impressed with you.

I love you, Nate. With every hard moment comes a happy fun one and I'll hang onto those. You're a super kid with a sweet heart and sunshine all around. I can't wait to see what comes next.


Sunday, July 6, 2008

Meal plan recap

So last week was "shop from your pantry" week. We had lots of leftovers from two of the dinners, so I only ended up cooking 3 big meals (plus we were all out on the 4th of July).

Monday and Wednesday we had bean enchiladas. I used up: Morningstar Farms Veggie Crumbles, refried beans, shredded cheese, cilantro from a recipe last week, and a half-open jar of enchilada sauce. The only thing I had to buy was the tortillas ($2.50)

Tuesday we had salmon (no photo). Used up the salmon (obviously) and a half empty jar of lemon dill sauce. I paired it with jasmine rice and a bagged spinach salad from Trader Joes.

Thursday and today we're eating crockpot veggie chili. Used up the other pack of veggie crumbles, cans of beans, cans of crushed tomatoes, and a can of corn. The only thing I bought was the zucchini and squash.

I plan on using up a few more orphaned items in next week's meals! Stay tuned for the fascinating update.

Giant Food, week of July 4th

Giant's sales run Friday to Thursday, so these sales are for July 4th through July 10th.

Best thing this week: A $5/$40 coupon right there in the circular! That's 12.5% off your order right off the bat. I suspect things will work fine if you use it before any manufacturer coupons - their coupon scanning system is a little loose and likely won't catch it if your total then falls below $40.


Porterhouse or T-Bone steak
is on sale for $4.99/lb - save at least $5/lb! Must buy at least 3 pounds to get the deal.

Center cut pork loin chops (bone in) are on sale for $1.99/lb - save at least $2/lb! Must buy at least 3 pounds to get the deal.


Blueberries are on sale again - a summertime favorite for our family. Two pints for $3! That's almost as great as the $1 pints from last week. No limit listed this time!

Frozen items:

Lean Cuisines are on sale 4/$10, all varieties.


Kellogg's cereal (selected varities) are on sale 2/$5: Corn Pops, Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes, Frosted Mini-Wheat Bite Size, and Raisin Bran.

General Mills cereal (selected varieties) are on sale 2/$5: Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Lucky Charms, Fruity Cheerios, and Berry Berry Kix.

Coke 12-packs are on sale 5/$10. You must buy 5 to get the deal, and the limit is 5.

Nature Made vitamins are BOGO. Use two $1.50/1 coupons from the 6/1 P&G insert.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

CVS weekly deals - July 6th

Here are the deals that look promising this week:

Playtex tampons (16-18 ct.): Pay $4.99, get 3 ECBs. Use the Playtex coupon for $1/1 from the 6/22 Red Plum insert (good on 18 ct. only). Net cost: $.99!

Pert Plus 2 in 1 Shampoo and Conditioner is on sale - 2 for $5 (no limit). Use the $2/1 coupon from the 6/29 Smart Source insert. Net cost: $.50 each!

Gillette Satin Care Shave Gel is 2 for $4. Use the (expired) coupon for $1/1 from the 6/1 P&G insert or the NOT expired coupon for $1/1 from the 7/6 P&G. Net cost: $1 each!

Honey Bunches of Oats are on sale BOG at $4.29. Use two coupons from here (lower left corner) to get $2/box. I was only able to print one before the offer expired.

Dawn dish liquid is on sale $2/2, plus they generate 1 ECB (limit 5). Use two (expired) $.20/1 coupons from the 6/1 P&G insert. Net cost: $.30 each!

Duracell batteries are on sale for $2.99 (small packs). Use $1/1 coupons from the 6/29 Smart Source insert. Net cost: $1.99 each! If you purchase $20 worth, you'll get a free 24-pack of Gold Emblem water.

PowerAde 32 oz. is BOGO free at $1.49. Use two $.75/1 coupons from the 6/8 Smart Source insert. Net cost: FREE!

Coupons to use on the "Buy $20 on Olay skin care, get 10 ECBs" deal (if they qualify):

Olay facial moisturizer or cleanser - $1/1 from the 6/22 Smart Source or the 7/6 P&G
Olay Regerist facial moisturizer or cleanser - $3/1 from the 6/22 Smart Source
Olay Definity Moisturizer - $3/1 from the 7/6 P&G
Olay Quench Hand and Body Lotion - $1/1 from the 7/6 P&G

Thursday, July 3, 2008

CVS recap - week of June 29th

Here's what I've gotten this week (I still have a few more things to pick up, but this is most of it):

Merchandise total: $194.90
Net cost after sales tax: EARNED $.69

Sorry - I found two more receipts.

Merchandise total: $239.01
Net cost after sales tax: $1.74

Drat! If I hadn't made the mistake and bought the Band-Aid brand instead of the CVS brand, I'd have made a profit on all of this (including some full-price items we just needed in the house).

Anyway, I've decided to stop breaking it out by transaction because it's just too boring. I'll just list the deals I took advantage of and the coupons I used to make it work. Then you can make it work however you want. I did two trips (one in June, one in July) and used both my account and Stewart's account.

  • 2 CVS pantiliners (July freebie): Pay $.99, get .99 ECB
  • 2 CVS makeup removers (July deal): Pay $2.99, get 1 ECB. Used $2/CVS skincare coupon
  • 9 Brut deoderants (June deal): Pay $3.59, get 3 ECBs. Used $.55/Brut from the 6/8 SS
  • 2 Clairol Natural Instincts (weekly deal): Pay $5.99, get 1 ECB. Used $4/Clairol from the 6/1 P&G
  • 7 CVS aftershaves (weekly deal): Pay $2.59, get 1 ECB. Used $2/CVS skincare coupon
  • 1 Johnson & Johnson trial-sized lotion. Pay $1. Used $1/coupon (no longer found online)
  • 4 CVS 40-count bandages (June freebie): Pay $1.99, get 1.99 ECBs
  • 4 Bic Soleil Razors, 4 packs cartridges (July deal): Pay $13.98 for two, get 5 ECBs. Used TWO $4/coupons from the 6/22 SS
  • 2 Crest toothpastes (weekly deal). Pay $1.99, get 1 ECB. Used $1/Crest from the 6/1 P&G
  • 4 Sure deodorants (July deal). Buy 2, get 3 ECBs. Priced at $2.79. Used BOGO coupons from 6/29 SS
  • 2 Physicians Formula mascaras (weekly freebie). Pay $7.99, get 7.99 ECBs.
  • 2 Coppertone sunscreen sticks (weekly deal). Buy any 2, get 10 ECBs. Sticks were priced at $5.60 each.
  • 7 Listerine Smart Rinses (June freebie). Pay $3.59, get 3.59 ECBs.
  • 1 pack Oral B toothbrushes (June freebie). Pay $6.99, get 6.99 ECBs.
  • Bandaids: MISTAKE. Meant to get the CVS brand freebies.
  • Ivory soap: needed them for the house.
  • 2 Accu-Check diabetes meters (weekly freebie). Pay $9.99, get 9.99 ECBs.
I was able to use the expired $3/15 coupon 7 times before it started beeping which certainly didn't hurt.

And that's how you get almost $200 worth of stuff for free! I love the freebies, I love the hunt, I love the brain workout this gives me.

I plan to start tracking my own deals instead of relying on the other blogs out there; I sometimes find out about deals too late to take advantage of them (like the Huggies June deal, I could have cleaned up on that one!) Stay tuned for better coverage of upcoming deals!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Garden update

Gracious, this garden is on the edge of being out-of-control. I'm proud it's growing so well, but I feel like the sorcerer in the Disney movie where everything keeps multiplying. When the tomates start to ripen, we're going to have more to eat than we'll know what to do with. What a great problem to have!

Our budding gardener:



JalapeƱos on the left, Cherry Bomb peppers on the right:

Big tomatoes:

Grape tomatoes (Super Sweet 100s on the right, yellow pear on the left):

Notice anything missing? Yup, all of the carrots and the beautiful cilantro are completely gone. The culprit? The bane of every DC resident: rats. An abandoned house about 5 down has a huge rat problem in the basement. They roam around at night looking for food, and evidentially have gourmet tastes. Needless to say, traps have been dispatched and I've replanted. Yuck.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Improvements all over the place

Jack officially crawled for the first time yesterday - right hand forward, left knee forward, left hand forward. He crawled to me.

He still mostly spins on his belly grabbing at things like a desperate tiny parachutist, but he's on the verge of real movement. He's already sitting up playing with his toys for minutes at a time and I can't tell you what a relief it is to have him out of my arms. Love my boy, but love cooking dinner with both hands, too.

Sleeping is still rough, but there's some change: three times now he's slept from 6:30 to 5. It's far from the norm, but I know we're moving in the right direction. I'm glad I trusted my Mommy gut and didn't do a full-out sleep-training with him. It's just not right for his sweet little self.

And boy is he sweet. Both arms around my neck, burrowing into my shoulder. Grins and slobber all over the place. When he's tired, he reaches up blindly and grabs my chin and cheeks and nose and just holds on.

What would we do without this sweet funny kid?

A great offer from Blockbuster

Right now, Blockbuster is offering their standard two-week trial, but with a bonus: if you go on to sign up for their service, they'll put $10 in your Paypal account.

If you were already planning on using them, it's a nice little freebie!

Details here. If you are going to sign up, you need to it here and choose Paypal as your method of payment to make sure you get the extras.