Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hello again, my friend

For the first time in a long time, blogging just hasn't been on my mind. I've let two newsletters slip right by; I never even thought about Jack's. I'm skipping over the Mommy guilt and just trying to get back on the horse.

I want to talk about my Jack. I took this picture right before I had to wake him up to go pick Nate up from school:

Sweet enough for you?

Jack is my heart, my sweet boy. I could watch him toddle around all day. His squeals of laughter and his hugs make my days worthwhile.

So it was especially hard to hear, at his 15 month check-up, that he really should be talking by now. When his total lack of speech was combined with my answering "I'm not sure" to a lot of questions about his verbal comprehension, he was officially tagged "mildly developmentally delayed."

It was a bad week. It sucked the joy out of me, watching his happy face, seeing his quick grins, wondering about the future and about his life.

As the week went on, though, I was able to decide that he was, in fact, doing a lot of the things the pediatrician had quizzed me on. He's imitating: yesterday he put my phone up to his ear, and when I showed him how to stir a spoon in a bowl he tried to mimic it right away. He's following instructions (sometimes): He puts things in the trash when I ask him to and pantomime doing it, he gives things to Daddy when instructed, he looks around for Pink Doll when I ask him where she is.

Plus he's cute.

So what we're left with now: he doesn't often wave, and he definitely doesn't have any words. I'm going to go ahead and do the developmental assessment at Children's Hospital (anticipated appointment is sometime in May - he'll probably be writing novels by then). I'm going to work some with him at home, reading books and talking even more.

Part of the reason I wasn't really able to answer the pediatrician's questions was that Jack is such a happy, easy kid that I don't have to do too much "parenting" with him. While Nate's at school he putters around upstairs with me, dismantling the house while I pay bills and make phone calls. When Nate's home he's content to run around with him and dismantle the living room. He's all grins and cuddles all day. At a birthday party this morning the Dad decided to stop calling him "Baby Jack" and start calling him "Happy Jack." He charms everyone he comes across, grinning at them and ducking his head into my chest.

He's just the light of my life, and if I could give up a kidney to make sure he's going to end up being okay I'd do it in a second. If you have any extra thoughts, or kidneys, to send our way I'll receive them gratefully.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Stealing from Shoppers Food Warehouse

Holy cow. Through Wednesday SFW is doubling $1 coupons and tripling coupons up to $.50. I honestly couldn't fit my purchases into one picture, so here are three shots in no particular order or grouping:

Price before coupons and tax: 304.13
Price after coupons and tax: $15.33

I could have done better but I messed up the order of one of the transactions. Boo. On the other hand, $304 worth of food for 15 bucks? Including 16 bags of frozen organic veggies and tater tots? Fantastic.

As part of figuring out how to manage everything in my life, including some new real estate work, I'm not going to log out all of the details of my transactions. If anyone wants any details, though, just leave me a comment and I'll be happy to help!

CVS last week (helpful, huh?)

Love CVS.

I made $17 to walk out of the store with these.

  • Mylanta x 10: They were discounted to $3.75 and each generating $3.50 (or something close to that). I used four coupons for $4 off 2, and two coupons for $1 off one. Made about $17 on this deal! Kept 2 and sent the rest to donation.
  • BodiHeats were priced at $4.30 and each had a coupon for $1 off. They're each generating $3 ecbs this month, so I spent about 30 cents on each of them. Totally worth it. Half for us, half for donation.
  • Gillette Fusion Gamers were on sale for $7.99 and generating $3 ecbs. I had very old coupons for $4 off which went through with no problem. Free. Kept these for fun presents for people.
  • Neutrogena facial soaps cost $3.30 each and were part of a "Buy 2 Neutrogena products, get $10 ecbs" promotion. I made $6.60 buying the darn things and I'm keeping them. So there.
  • Colgate Toothpastes were free after ecbs and I paired them with coupons for $1 off. Made $4 buying them. They'll all be donated.
Check back later to see a really super fantastic extra double fun trip to Shoppers Food Warehouse.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dear Sweet Nate

I wrote your Three Years, Five Months Newsletter. I typed it out and loaded it up, ready to add the photos and publish from Aruba.

It's totally gone, and I'm so sorry. I'll rock the next one, I promise.


Monday, February 16, 2009

I'm SOLD on online offers

All credit goes to Carrie at

I read her posts. I analyzed the factors. I bombed the first offer because I didn't read Carrie's easy instructions carefully enough. I rocked the next one, and the one after that.

Last week I got this lovely Home Depot card worth $500:

Today I picked up these Mobil / Exxon gas cards worth $500:

I can't count it towards income for this month since it won't be applied against debt. But they'll save us tons on gas, and even let me splurge a little on garden gear for this summer (items I would likely have had to buy anyway, but now they'll be free! Free! Free!)

My plan for next week is to start a third card, and I'll lay it out step by step so you can see which card I picked and which deals I'm using. I convinced the FedEx lady to give it a try. Are you next?

Hello again!

So sorry for the long silence. First I was prepping for a trip, then I was on a trip, then I was recovering from a trip. Phew. A "vacation" with two small kids just isn't a vacation anymore. A great trip, yes, but not a vacation. I'm bushed.

But coming home the Saturday of Presidents Day weekend made life a lot easier. Stewart's home from work today and I got a ton of planning done for the garden (schedule of seed starting, when to transplant, etc.)

I also got a little breathing room to finally make this:

I'd seen a few recipes on the internet (this one is pretty) and when I came across a Valentines version in Parents Magazine I knew I had to make it. It turned out much prettier than the photo shows - it's one layer of dark red, one of pink, and one of clear. I repeated each one twice and it set beautifully. I'm going to surprise Nate after dinner tonight (I meant to make it for Valentines day but it just didn't happen).

It was actually a lot easier than I was expecting from the description of the rainbow one. I heated a saucepan with two cups of water and when it boiled I took it off the heat and added 3 packages of sugar-free jello (two raspberry and a strawberry, if you want the gory details) and one .25 ounce packet of Knox gelatin. I dipped out 2/3 cup into a separate bowl and whisked in 1/2 cup (plus 2 tbsp) plain yogurt to make the pink layer. In a third bowl I measured 1 1/3 cups white grape juice and sprinkled 2 more packets of gelatin on top. After letting that rest for 5 minutes, I heated it in the microwave for 1 minute and stirred to dissolve the gelatin.

Take an 8x8 square pan (really, it should work with any small pan in any shape) and pour in half of the red mixture. Put it flat in the fridge and let it set for 15 minutes. Then pour in half the pink mix, and so on. Let the final design sit in the fridge for a few hours and it's done!

To remove it from the pan I sat it in hot water for a few minutes and turned it out onto a cutting board. When that didn't work I dug around one of the sides with a knife until it started peeling out. I just used my hands to ease it out the rest of the way onto the cutting board and cut into 1-inch pieces. Very pretty!

It's very easy to make. Halfway through I got engrossed in the gardening planning and the mixes I hadn't poured in yet congealed. I freaked, then realized that if I just heated them up for a few seconds they melted right back into pourable form. Whew. You can just do a layer, let it sit for however long, and come back when you get another chance. That's my kind of recipe.

Come on back for fun financial news tomorrow!